Fans of director Edgar Wright’s genre-mashing brilliance can rest assured that The World’s End is more than just a fitting conclusion to his self-titled Cornetto trilogy. Though not as flawless as I view Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz to be, Wright’s latest homage to the blending of cinematic conventions is by far one of the most zany and infectiously entertaining films of the year. Surprisingly (and thankfully), it also holds far more emotional resonance than you’d expect from a film of its type too.
The World’s End reunites director Wright with trusted collaborators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and continues the trios running joke of placing oblivious man-children in small British towns filled with horrible secrets. This time, instead of hilariously fending off zombies (Shaun) or re-enacting high-octane action sequences from Point Break (Hot Fuzz), the lads are reattempting ‘The Golden Mile’, an epic pub-crawl that they were unable to complete 20 years previously as graduates.
For this his third entry, Wright cleverly departs form the typecasting that both Pegg and Frost have grown accustomed to in recent years. Pegg’s Gary King is a brash and unlikable protagonist (at least at first). While he’s still cheekily funny, he’s unashamedly obnoxious and obsessed with revisiting his ‘legendary’ former glory days. There is very good reason as to why none of his childhood friends wish to see him again. Frost on the other hand, does away with the lovable oaf routine, and delivers a welcomed straight-man performance as Gary’s grounded and cautious ex-best friend, Andy. Accompanying the dynamic comedy duo are some of Britannia’s finest with Martin Freeman (The Hobbit), Paddy Considine (Hot Fuzz) and Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes) who each add their own comic sensibilities to the mix.
Much like its predecessors, the film takes its time to provide plenty of that sensational Wright-stylised-editing to develop these estranged characters, before a violent confrontation forces the film to radically shift its gears. The remainder plays out as a gleeful tribute to the classic genre films of science fiction past (notable references include: Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Thing and Village of the Damned).
When the laughs stop (only temporarily) and the lads aren’t ripping off blue-blooded heads and limbs in drunken bar fights, the film provides an emotional anchor for the entire series. Essentially, all three films are joyful romps about a bunch of best friends in dire need of social and emotional maturity. In rather appropriate fashion, The World’s End delivers an oddly convincing message about fractured friendships and the damaging impact of living in your past.
All of this is to say, that if the apocalypse did ever eventuate, I would gladly share a pint or two in the company of these great fellows. Wouldn’t you?