One night, twelve pubs, at least one drink in each. This pub crawl is a premise for disaster, but in The World’s End, the threat of alcohol poisoning is far eclipsed by blue-blooded robots.
This film is the third big screen collaboration between director Edgar Wright and actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the conclusion of their Cornetto trilogy. Each of the three films deals with themes of immaturity and feeling out of place, all while combining these human elements with a comedic take on genre films. As Shaun of the Dead parodied zombie films and Hot Fuzz was an amusing take on the buddy cop action flick, The World’s End is so titled not just for the final destination on the “Golden Mile” pub crawl but also a looming apocalyptic threat.
Gary (Pegg) was the leader of the pack as a kid but never matured beyond those school years. At a group meeting for substance abusers, he recounts his attempt at completing The Golden Mile with glee and promptly sets about reuniting his friends for another shot at the alcoholic glory. In Wright’s previous films, Pegg played the straight character, but here he excels as the manipulative, immature troublemaker who lies freely to convince his friends to come back to Newton Haven. Naturally, things do not go as planned. The pubs have gone commercial, Andrew (Frost) has gone teetotal, and the residents have started acting strange. There’s also the small matter of an invasion from space robots.
The film does not get weighed down too much by science fiction but instead focuses on the survival of its primary characters as they struggle to cope with the threat before fighting back. The supporting performances by Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, and Rosamund Pike demonstrate why they are some of the most in demand English actors today. Beyond the human talent, the action is a glorious feat. While this year’s blockbusters seem to be content to just blow up cities, the one-on-one fights here are well choreographed with video game precision, no doubt aided by Wright’s work on the criminally underrated Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
Wright’s style is as identifiable as ever, with the brilliant, nostalgic soundtrack (I nearly cheered to that Blur riff), clever cuts, and tight shots on mundane actions like pint glasses filling. With this brilliant showing, I am ready to declare The World’s End one of the best films of the year and Wright himself a solid auteur.
The World’s End is directed by Edgar Wright and stars Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike. It is in theaters nationwide now.