The Small Town Utopian Ideal at the Heart of Hot Fuzz

There's something seriously wrong in Sandford—but you wouldn't know it just by looking around. The Gloucester haven has won Village of the Year for who knows how long. It's a model of British country living—but beneath the picturesque facade is something far more sinister.

We're talking utopias here at Gizmodo this week, and Hot Fuzz—the second installment in Edgar Wright's loosely themed Cornetto Trilogy—is set in a prototypical charming community, one where residents resort to maintaining an idyllic status quo by any means necessary. (Spoilers ahead.)

It's the kind of small town where everyone knows everyone else by name (or familial relation), and problems—ranging from minor to what sure looks like murder—are merely "accidents." Because Sandford is carefully looked after: not only by a team of well-meaning but bumbling cops, but also by the all-seeing Neighborhood Watch Alliance. Heck, the NWA (heh) even has a dedicated surveillance room at the police station with CCTV cameras trained over all the area's hotspots. Its weekly meetings are attended by the farmer, the reverend, the florist, and other civic-minded do-gooders with Sandford's best interest in mind. They're working for "the greater good," you see. It's all about the greater good.

It takes no-nonsense Sergeant Nicholas Angel—a London export who was making his big city colleagues look bad—to suss out that a gruesome series of mishaps involving death by decapitation, home explosions, falling debris, and impalement by oversized shears weren't flukes, and that the NWA's attempts to keep up appearances are deadly. Because damn—these locals will do anything to secure their winning title yet again. They pick people off who they view as blights: the amateur dramatists whose acting wasn't up to snuff, the man whose mansion didn't quite match the village's rustic aesthetic, the journalist who can't fact check (or spell well), and many more.

Hot Fuzz was filmed in historic Wells in Somerset—England's teeniest metropolis, apparently—that has a heritage dating back to Roman times. With the cathedral and market square, it's not hard to see why it was chosen as a stand-in for the kind of place that elicits warm and fuzzy nostalgia on sight.

Which is not to say shit doesn't get real. Shit, in fact, gets very, very real. There are bombs. Blood. Shoot-outs in supermarkets and fields. People fire their guns up in the air and go "AAARGH!" The final fight scene takes place in an actual model village, which is subsequently demolished (symbolism!). The movie is a masterful mash-up of action film tropes (with special affection for Point Break and Bad Boys II) and a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

When the credits roll, there's really only question that remains: What's your perfect Sunday?

Hot Fuzz is currently streaming on HBOgo. If you haven't seen it, you're gonna love it. If you have seen it, there's no time like the present to watch it again (and again and again).