Simon Pegg is the silliest David Caruso since the real one in Hot Fuzz, an over-the-top Brit-riff on cop movies, cop shows and the CSI age we live in. All that’s missing are the snappy Ray-Bans, and the snappy, much-mocked one-liners.
Until the third act.
Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Paddy Considine, Steve Coogan, Timothy Dalton, Martin Freeman, Paul Freeman, Bill Nighy, Lucy Punch, Anne Reid, Billie Whitelaw, Stuart Wilson, Edward Woodward
(Rogue Pictures; US theatrical: 20 Apr 2007 (General release); UK theatrical: 14 Feb 2007 (General release); 2007)
“Fire up the top,” he growls, meaning “turn on the lights and siren.”
Out come the Ray-Bans, and the Cockney Caruso makes you glad you’ve never watched CSI: Miami with a straight face.
This rude, bodily fluid-spattered romp from the folks who gave us Shaun of the Dead is like the Red Bull version of every bad buddy police picture—a little Lethal Weapon, a lot of Bad Boys, and waaaaay too much Point Break.
Pegg plays Nicholas Angel, London’s super cop, an over-achiever in every corner of the job. He’s so good he makes everybody else look bad.
So three levels of supervisors (Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan and Bill Nighy) tell him he’s been A) promoted and B) re-assigned, to tiny, sleepy Standford, in Gloucestershire.
It’s Live-and-Let Live country, a real Mayberry where the by-the-book Angel fits in like a more lethal Barney Fife. The chief inspector (Jim Broadbent) is quick to remind the lad that “This isn’t London,” it’s “the safest village in the country.”
But something’s rotten in the town of Standford. “Accidents” keep popping up. And the doltish cops aren’t clever enough to see what Angel sees—that they might not be accidents at all.
Nick Frost of Shaun of the Dead is Angel’s amiable “inebriate” sidekick, Danny, the Goober who’s seen every cop movie ever, and always wanted that “Point Break” experience.
A Who’s Who of character actors fill the town—the menacing Timothy Dalton plays a menacing supermarket owner, Paul Freeman of Raiders of the Lost Ark is a priest, Billie Whitelaw of the original Omen and scads of `60s movies is a barkeep, and so on.
The secret to this movie, as with Shaun, is pace—extreme, comic close-ups, sputtered bits of slang, profanity and blurted-out put-downs.
“Oh look, it’s Crockett and Tubby.”
And don’t forget the whiplash-quick cuts. Director Edgar Wright and the producers (Pegg co-wrote it) rarely let the energy flag as this thing sprints towards one obvious conclusion, followed by an outrageous finale that is Dirty Harry as it might have been interpreted by Monty Python.
Pegg is the glue that holds all this together. As he was as the title character in Shaun of the Dead, he is the straight-man in an absurd world, hard-as-nails, uncompromising, virtuous, but wound entirely too tight for most people to tolerate.
Let Frost and the Oscar-winning Broadbent, scenery-chewing ex-James Bond Dalton and assorted other daft village “types” land the laughs. Pegg is that irresistible force bashing against every immovable dolt he meets, often with hilarious results.
And if David Caruso ever thinks of retiring? “CSI: Gloucestershire” kind of rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?
4 stars (out of 5)