I’ve been thinking about this a lot since seeing Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (and I apologize for the volume of spin-off posts about the movie, for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, or aren’t interested, or whatever). Because if one thing is clear across Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim, it’s that Mr. Wright can direct the hell out of an action sequence. Take the great pub fight scene from Shaun of the Dead:
Yeah, the Queen soundtrack is ludicrous, and really funny, but as they’re beating the hell out of the zombie, you’ve also got this nice focus on the victim that also gives you a look at all the people whaling on him. Same thing when Shaun’s grappling with him later in the scene, you get the sense of struggle, while also getting the unhelpful help on the periphery. There are all these references to classic action maneuvers, whether in tossed shotguns and pool queues, or a twirl of the legs as someone gets up, but you also see much more of what’s going on than you do in busier, less effective action scenes.
Then there’s the epic gunfight in Hot Fuzz:
It’s much more complicated and frenetic than the previous scene, and involves many more people. But the fight also works and is completely comprehensible because we’ve been well-introduced to the principles, the geography, and the functions of the town (like the shop alarm bell), so we can follow the action without needing to get re-situated. The whole movie leads up to it and prepares you for it.
There are more fight scenes in Scott Pilgrim, and they’re much more effects-dependent, and working in a very different visual language than either of the previous two movies (or hell, anything else, ever), so it’s not really a comparable experience. But they have a similar visual intelligence to them, a similar snap, and energy and sense of humor. You can follow the action and the dynamic of a fight clearly.
Given all of this, it would be fun to see what Wright would do with a leading man who’s in actual, believable fighting trim (not that I don’t love Simon Pegg, but his shtick is as a regular dude). Get him and Jason Statham, a hunk of rock who has a sense of humor about himself and his fighting, together, and let’s see what happens.