Much like Edgar Wright’s previous Shaun of the Dead, The World’s End is an examination of the mundane issues we all face everyday, with a backdrop of the extraordinary.
The plot begins simply enough with Gary (Simon Pegg), a man-child who’s never progressed beyond his adolescence, recruiting the members of his former clique (a top-class ensemble played by Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, and Eddie Marsan) to reunite to finish the pub crawl they started, but never finished over twenty years ago, in their quiet, unassuming hometown of Newton Haven. To a man, each of his friends have grown up and moved on, not to mention having serious and well founded reservations about such an endeavor. But, it’s this group’s interactions and chemistry that drive the film, from the familiar exchange of quips, banter, drinking and reminiscing, to the squabbling and opening of old wounds.
It’s there in the unfolding story of these friends and their histories, that the audience finds the film’s social commentary. Any of them could easily be someone you know, or are in fact, yourself. It’s through them that the film opens and lays bare contemporary issues ordinary people face in their daily lives, and in so doing, often strikes close to home in an uncomfortable sort of way. As the characters are each in turn forced to face some of their issues, the audience is drawn along with them — Do you tell the person you love how you feel? What happens when you realize your best days are behind you? How do you find closure on childhood trauma? How do you reconcile with betrayal by your dearest friend?
But in the same way sugar can help the medicine go down, the comedy and action here is well-paced enough to prevent the audience from getting dragged down out of their suspended disbelief. But always, there is a vague sort of melancholy lurking just beneath the self-deprecating humor and manic energy, and something about that odd blend left me somewhat uneasy at times. In true Sci-Fi tradition, the fantastical elements that develop in the story serve to add parallels and layers, further driving the overall narrative. A narrative that then takes those personal issues already mentioned, and quietly fuses them into the bigger and encompassing subject of individuality versus the collective; laying everything out simultaneously, on multiple levels, through out the picture, building up to the climax.
If you’re a fan of Wright’s previous outings, British humor, or even Apocalyptic Threats to Humanity, this one should be on your list. 3.5 out of 5.