The third and final (?) film in Edgar Wright’s Three Colours Cornetto trilogy as it’s become known arrives six years after the last installment, during which all of those involved have gone on to bigger things, and it’s an altogether different beast than Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead.
Reuniting his old school gang, Gary “the once and future” King (Simon Pegg), wants to relive the glory days and complete an epic pub crawl ending with the twelfth pint at The World’s End in their home town that they attempted in their youth but never completed. However, getting his old pals Andy, Oliver, Steven and Peter (Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan), all of whom have outgrown the manchild Gary and some who actively hate him, back together for the pub crawl just happens to have coincided with the invasion of their home town by robots.
Or alien robots.
First and foremost, you can certainly tell that this is an Edgar Wright film. All of the director’s trademarks are present and correct here, all even more polished now with the experience gained during his Scott Pilgrim gig. It’s easily the best looking film of the three and feels like the film from a director at the height of his game. Wright is a very visual director and it shows. Effortlessly shooting the rapid fire fighting and action scenes just as well as the quickfire dialogue sequences; the film never loses its energy or encounters any pacing issues. A brawl in the men’s toilets all in one (CG enhanced, but no less impressive) long shot is breathless and just as good as the one shot in The Avengers.
Unfortunately the vapid hollowness of Scott Pilgrim has been brought along too, and while it worked in that film (a videogame brought to life) it doesn’t work here when we’re expected to care about the characters. In Shaun and Fuzz the relationship between Shaun and Ed/Nicholas and Danny helped give the films some heart in between the zombie carnage and gunfights. Here, due to the expanded cast the relationship between the two actors you’ve come to see is sidelined at best, and non evident at worst. It makes for a film where all five of the characters aren’t really friends and as such you don’t really care. And although that’s kind of the point of the film (you outgrow your old friends/life) it doesn’t make them much fun to spend time with. Which is a shame because Pegg and Frost give what are arguably their best performances; with Frost for once playing the straight man (and who gets the chance to do some real heavy lifting acting wise) to Pegg’s overgrown teenager (who despite being obnoxious throughout never loses your sympathy).
All of which wouldn’t matter if the film were consistently funny, but it’s not. Yes, there are the expected Cornetto and fence gags, which still raise a chuckle, but the script seems so concerned with going big (and it does, none more so than in a bizarre shark jumping coda) that it forgets to have any actual jokes in it. I’m struggling to remember any decent lines or scenes that made me properly laugh (like both Shaun and Fuzz had in spades), and for a comedy that’s not a good thing.
Its ambition is commendable but ultimately it tries to do too many things at once and fails to pull all of them off. The things it does well (the fights, the actual invasion story) are fantastic, but they shouldn’t be the only things you remember from what’s supposed to be a comedy.
2 and a half stars
Review by Jonathan Cardwell.
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