The Worlds End

The World's End CoverDirected by Edgar Wright

Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike, Pierce Brosnan

The thematic arc that began all the way back in the brilliant British TV series, Spaced, comes to a hilarious and trenchant conclusion in this, the third part of the so-called Three Colours: Cornetto Trilogy (the other two being Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz but, of course, you already knew that).

This time we’re riffing on sci-fi fare like Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers and Village Of The Damned, as ageing ne’er-do-well Gary King (Simon Pegg with slicked back hair and a Sisters Of Mercy tattoo), still hung up on a high school pub crawl that he and his mates failed to complete, gets the old gang back together to give it another crack. For Gary, it’s a chance to recapture the glory of youth; for Andrew (Nick Frost), Oliver (Martin Freeman), Peter (Eddie Marsan) and Steven (Paddy Considine), it’s a grudging obligation to an old friend that, frankly, they’d rather not have set eyes on again.

Yes, this time around Wright and company are looking at the dark underbelly of nostalgia. Whereas their previous work has elevated the overgrown manchild to a level of heroism, in The World’s End Gary is a pathetic figure, possessed of a kind of superficial charisma, but otherwise a complete failure of  a human being. The willingness to acknowledge the essential dysfunction that often accompanies the desire to relive the past gives the film some much-needed pathos.

Of course, if that’s a little too heavy for you, there’s an army of Stepford Wives-style androids in dire need of murderising in hectic and hilarious fashion. The  feelings of alienation Gary and friends are accosted by are not solely due to their bittersweet return to their old stomping grounds; the citizens of our heroes’ home town, Newton Haven, have largely been replaced by malevolent, unfeeling robots, and the gang, along with Oliver’s sister, Sam (Rosamund Pike), must fight their way to the last pub on the crawl, the eponymous The World’s End.

The action is fast and frenetic – it’d be interesting to see Wright tackle a pure action film one day – and the jokes come thick and fast. The cast are across-the-board-great, but top marks go to regular collaborator Nick Frost, who gets to start out as the straight man before alcohol and necessity transform him into a deadpan, brawling bruiser.

What has always set Wright’s work apart is his ability to marry geek cultural conceits with universal humour and genuine emotion. His use of pop culture trappings has always been precisely on the money – witness the soundtrack here, which encompasses such ‘90s British mainstays as Primal Scream and Happy Mondays, and goes so far as to include The Housemartins – but that’s never been his primary concern. Boil them down to the basics and all Wright’s efforts are about relationships, both platonic and romantic, and the way they change. The World’s End is no exception, and if you dug his earlier offerings, there’s little chance you won’t enjoy the hell out of this, too.