Believe it or not, it’s been six years since Hot Fuzz came out. It’s been quite the wait for the third installment of what is now known as Edgar Wight, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost’s Cornetto Trilogy. The trilogy is named such since they just happen to make reference to the ice cream in all the films, but there also are many underlying themes in all the three films. Such as being your own person against massed uniformity, the struggle of maintaining relationships, and of course, battling back against some kind of evil force. The World’s End is a glorious return for Wright and the gang, achieving all that I hoped it would be and much more.
Gary King (Simon Pegg) is still stuck in the past. He’s a grown man who still holds onto the night where he and his five friends — Peter (Eddie Marsan), Oliver (Martin Freeman), Steven (Paddy Considine) and Andy (Nick Frost) attempted to complete The Golden Mile: An epic pub crawl consisting of 12 pubs in their hometown of Newton Haven. They tried to conquer it as teenagers but failed to do so, and Gary still holds onto that moment with everything he has left in his life. In the nearly 20 years that has passed since then, nothing has changed for Gary. He still wears the same t-shirt and leather jacket as he did on that fateful night, drives the same car (known as The Beast) that features the same mixtape for the last 17 years. To no surprise, he just so happens to be unemployed probably having to do with his immaturity, and his reliance on alcohol.
Unlike him, his friends have all moved on with their respective lives. They have successful jobs, and some have found marriages or even divorce. The point is, they’ve grown up. Gary hasn’t. Which is why he suddenly seeks the urge to gather the old gang together again to finish the Golden Mile, once and for all. Only his friends aren’t as ecstatic to make the journey back to Newton Haven to binge drink as Gary is. But they make the journey anyway, not knowing quite what was in store for them.
Instantly on their journey they notice things aren’t the same. The people are acting odd, and the pubs all resemble one another. No one remembers them, and it disgruntles Gary who isn’t quite remembered as the glorious young man as he remembered. This is an accurate point for anyone who has grown up. Sometimes when you go back to the a place, or even person, that you were once important to, or regarded with high esteem, you don’t get the glorious reception or remembrance that you expected. Sometimes life moves on without you, and the realization that your not remembered like you remembered you, is a devastating realization to make.
Heavy themes such as these are at the core of The World’s End, making it Edgar Wrights most sincere effort yet. Gary, as well as his friends, are forced to face their old demons and feelings that they were all running away from. We see the most emotional performances from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost of their careers yet, the latter, who is astonishingly touching and reflective. All of this amazingly comes in the midst of chaos, as the friends are forced to fight for their live on the Golden Mile, as they fight off creatures all while becoming more and more inebriated. The action scenes are Wrights most brilliant to date, combining the fast paced brilliance of Scott Pilgrim with the old school tributes of Hot Fuzz and Shaun Of The Dead. The choreography would even have Jackie Chan’s head spinning.
One scene is arguably the most exciting action sequence of the year, out-doing even the biggest budget superhero blockbusters: Where in massive pub fight Gary is fighting both his opponents as well as a pint. He continues to lose more and more of his pint as the action continues, leaving him annoyed and aggravated as his drink continues to spill, and narrowly avoid his lips. It’s hilarious and brilliant, and it was absolute classic.
The World End works because it utilizes comedy and high octane action well, but it also has plenty of heart to spare. You can’t help but be touched by the friends abilities to try and reconnect, through the good, and the bad. The performances are all there in more ways than one. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are the core of the film (holy crap can Nick Frost fight!), but Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan are scene-stealers and equally great. Martin Freeman and Rosamund Pike are good but sadly somewhat underused. There are also some glorious cameos along the way, including the return of some of the familiar characters from previous Cornetto entities.
The script written once again by the team of Wright and Pegg is a great batch of fun with plenty of heart to go around. When it comes down to it, this film isn’t just about friends trying to binge drink. It’s about coming to terms with yourself and accepting the good with the bad. You can’t change the past, but you can’t run from it either. With a little help from your friends, you can make the best of it.
The World’s End is an exciting and hilarious ride from start to finish. I was sitting on the edge of my seat and smiling throughout. I didn’t like the end of the film, as the final 5 minutes seemed rushed and out of left field. That is my only gripe with the film, which I can forgive because everything else was so well done. I don’t think it’s better than Shaun of Hot Fuzz, but it’s honestly as close as it gets. Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost should be proud. They’ve done it once again. This film will join the previous two as films that require repeated viewings to take all of it in, and pick up on the jokes and layers that we couldn’t possibly pick up all at once.