The World’s End (2013)

Six years on from their buddy cop deconstruction, Hot Fuzz, the British nerd’s dream team are back and it’s fitting that they have chosen to close their Blood and Ice Cream trilogy with a tale of five former friends reuniting to, once again, traverse familiar terrain. This is how I imagine that most of us will approach this installment; as a reassembling of that gang of old friends that we feel very much a part of.

It’s very clear from the off that particular effort was made to ensure that The World’s End only bears cursory resemblance to Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Sure, there is stylised fence-hopping and Cornetto references but, beyond that, you’re in a whole new world. Simon Pegg plays a shit-heel living an almost junkiesque existence, as opposed to his usual stunted everyman, who cons his old posse into a trip down memory lane through 12 pubs with names that are handily appropriate for the unfolding narrative. Operating more as an ensemble piece than the usual two-handers, Eddie Marsan‘s put-upon Peter actually comes out on top in terms of interesting dialogue and the chops to really pull it off, leaving Pegg and Paddy Considine in his dust. Nick Frost gets his moment in the sun too, but a speech he gives in the second half of the film is so poorly handled that I am struggling to forgive him at all.

Unfortunately, The World’s End is a bag of ideas and themes that just don’t gel together. With so much unwieldy exposition jocking for position with five characters’ arcs and a hastily-assembled sci-fi plot thrown in, everything just gets a little lost in the melee. There are moments of brilliant writing, but the characters break under any real scrutiny because they are simply not fully percolated. Plot-threads are dropped and forgotten without any real explanation and then it ends. Badly. It’s not that it’s a bad film, it just doesn’t really work. All these disparate elements hover around each but they never meet meaning The World’s End never really functions as a cohesive whole.

Tonally, it touches on some of the same themes we have seen from the previous output of this gang. Gary King is Shaun taken to the Nth degree, a man-child imprisoned by his teens, held hostage by his former glories. The World’s End also looks at moving on, growing up and meeting the real world while still trying to retain some semblance of individuality. But the real message of the film is one of the evils of globalisation and conformity in modern society. Be sure to look down your throat though, because that is where this message is pitched. It’s about as subtle as a urinal to the face.

Despite it being a bit of a muddle, there are some real laugh out loud moments, alongside flashes of dour brilliance that hits you in that emotional sweet spot that Pegg and Wright seem to have on speed-dial. Much like with Shaun, it is easy to see yourself in some or all of the characters, which helps when you’re trying to tell a story with some emotional resonance. It looks great too. Wright matches his long-standing frenetic style with his newfound knowledge of high speed fight choreography and it makes for some impressive visuals.

When it is working, The World’s End is both funny and poignant in equal measure. There is heart and a sense of urgency that would, were it able to maintain, be a fitting and noble end to the unofficial trilogy. The sad fact is that it is just not stable enough to hold the myriad elements foisted upon it and, as such, spends most of its running time limply crawling in circles and forgetting its name.

Rating: ★★★★★½☆☆☆☆

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.