Hot Fuzz is an action packed comedy set in the unlikeliest of locales, a place where nothing ever happens. Which is exactly why the movie works: by not winking at the audience, it brilliantly spins the obvious into the unlikely (and vice versa). Unlike the skewered target in Shaun of the Dead (the similarities between zombies and the English pub crawling life), Hot Fuzz takes aim at a much broader target, namely one of (America’s) Hollywood’s chief exports: the big-bang action movie. The action movie is one of the easiest movies to do poorly and one of the hardest to do effectively – and, because they tend to border on spoofs of themselves in the first place, they are one of the hardest to parody well. However, just the idea of the team behind Shaun of the Dead doing to the police action-comedy genre (think and 48 HoursBad Boys) what they did to horror genre is enough to make me plunk down dollars.

Though modest and far from flashy, Sergeant Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) had an arrest record 400% higher than anyone else in his precinct. His personal initiative was such that his colleagues conspired to get him transferred for making them all look bad. So from London to the sleepy hamlet of Sandford he goes, a community so small that everyone knows each other, greets each other, and the big crime concern is loitering and the nuisance influx of living statues. Angel ends up partners with Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), son of the village police chief, Inspector Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent). Butterman is a student of American action flicks (Bad Boys II and Point Break being, in his opinion, the pinnacle of the genre) and is eager to live out his Bruckheimer-inspired cop fantasies through Sgt. Angel: two-fisted gun battles, extreme car chases, and wise-cracking trash talk.

Co-written by director Edgar Wright and Pegg, the duo are every bit the students of film that their American counterparts, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez (Grindhouse) are. Smart even in its juvenile humor (with charactes named P.I. Staker, Cocker, Blower, Skinner) to its less obvious gags co-opting all manner of pop culture influences (for those that missed the role of the N.W.A. in the movie, let’s just say that it makes the song from the soundtrack, “Straight Outta Sandford,” all the more hilarious). The quick cuts and edits turned even the filling out of paperwork into over the top action sequences.

“I’m open to the possibility of religion, I’m just not overly convinced by it.” –Sgt. Angel

Crime can be found anywhere – scratching the surface of even the calmest of villages reveals the dark heart of humanity. Evil is irrational and uncontrollable; life gets so twisted about, that grand conspiracy theories start to make sense when the truth is much simpler. We don’t like the feeling of helplessness that life often leaves us. Some folks clutch at idea that we have to follow the law without exception as the only way to survive – without the grey. Sgt. Angel’s “the law’s the law” attitude can seem to be a myopic view of the letter of the law.

“The law can be proper and righteous and used for the benefit of mankind.” –Sgt. Angel

We don’t get to make up the rules as we go along; the Law is meaningless if it isn’t consistently applied. Of course, that’s the rub, isn’t it: the Law isn’t consistently applied. It can’t be because the appliers (humanity) aren’t consistent – no matter how much talk there is about applying the law “for the greater good.”

“The boys here are not used to the concepts you’re bandying about.” –Inspector Frank Butterman

Sgt. Angel knew the law better than anyone else and applied it equally. He “believed in the immutable word of the Law” and that with procedural correctness there had to be moral authority. This set him apart from the people he was called to; a people that had so bought into the values of their culture, had been so brainwashed into not questioning, that they were happy and contented with the illusion they had created for themselves. Riding in on his white horse of judgment, in a lot of ways, he’d come to fulfill the law which made him a threat to all of the institutions of the village, the empire. Religious, medical, law, commerce, he was up against institutions and a way of life seemingly bigger than himself.

The “village,” with its values and its control and order is safeguarded at a price. Though it believed itself to be a “community that cares” – the reality is that the community was so rotted from the inside it had lost its way.

“It’s not your village anymore.” –Sgt. Angel

That is the good news that Sgt. Angel comes to bring. Through his “death” and “resurrection”, he inaugurates a greater kingdom, a different way of living, one that challenges the ways of the village. It’s an announcement that you don’t have to live the way they had been living. They didn’t have to pursue empty goals of materialism, consumerism, or chasing after the ill-defined false glories of “success”.

Instead, they could be about freedom, since we have been freed from the chains of crime (sin) and death. They could be about the pursuit of justice. The way Sgt. Angel chose to carry out his calling was to invest himself in a few, those that had been called for a purpose. They became his disciples of justice and he calls others to join in their mission of justice.

“Still feel like you’re missing out?” –Sgt. Angel

Hot Fuzz–though mostly an action buddy cop comedy–brings with it elements of many slasher movie moments. Deconstructing the genre, it includes moments of too tender male-bonding – the man-love demonstrated points to the unstated obvious about the undertones of the buddy cop relationship: these are testosterone fueled romances.

Subversive in the way it hits every cliché, nails them, and twists them on their head, the Wright-Pegg team gets the movie mostly right. While it does feel a little long, particularly near the middle of the movie, the hyper-explosive, downright ridiculous, last half hour makes up for it. Plus, it’s a non-stop laugh riot, so all you have to do is sit back and enjoy.