Police officer Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is an exemplary law enforcer in London, with a list of accomplishments as long as the long arm of the law. In fact, he's so good he is beginning to make his fellow police officers look like underachievers, hence he is summoned to see his superior (Martin Freeman) and given news he may well not enjoy hearing. He is to be assigned to a sleepy country village called Sandford, despite his protests because the crime rate there is laughably negligible compared with the capital. So what's a high powered officer to do? He may well be surprised...
For their follow up to the international hit Shaun of the Dead, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, who co-wrote the script, set their spoofing sights on something bigger than shuffling hordes of zombies: nothing less than the Hollywood blockbuster action extravaganza. Showing a deep respect for the genre, they evidently knew their stuff, and fans could tick off the references to Bad Boys II and Point Break (two of the more obvious examples) and the like and enjoy the send ups of the buddy movie, where the two heroes' most significant relationship would be with each other.
So who does Angel get to team up with? Bumbling constable Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), who he first meets when he arrests him for drunk driving after Angel has spent a night in the village pub sipping cranberry juice and seeing off the underage drinkers. It's only the next day that Angel realises that Danny is to be his policing partner, just one more reason he is less than impressed with his new position. Puppyish Danny is following in his father's footsteps, his father being the considerably more capable Inspector (Jim Broadbent), but is more in love with the idea of the American action movie model of cops that inhabits his DVD collection.
Ah, love. Angel doesn't appear to get much in the way of romance after he splits up with his girlfriend in an early scene, but look closer and you find he has all the affection he needs through the medium of manlove: nothing explicitly sexual, just a sincere male bonding with Danny. As with all those buddy movies that have gone before, what appears to be a mismatched couple grows to respect each other, and Pegg and Wright know where that leads. No, not intercourse, but firing off very big guns at bad guys and leaping around in slow motion while doing so.
The bad guys are difficult to spot initially, all apart from permanently grinning local bigwig Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton, more charismatic than he ever was as James Bond) who appears to know more about the "accidents" occurring in the area than he's letting on. It's not for nothing that Edward Woodward is in the N.W.A. - that's the Neighbourhood Watch Alliance, naturally - as there's a debt to British horror movies here as well. There are so many recognisable U.K. talents that it seems as if the producers wanted to pack in as many as possible, but get over the cameos and starry supporting roles and there's an adherence to ploys of traditional village mysteries when Angel gets a plot to solve. You could argue that Wright and Pegg are so enamoured of their idea that they are reluctant to leave anything out, but this is good value more than anything else, with the laughs to minutes ratio commendably high. Music by David Arnold.