The chin of Karl Urban stars as Judge Dredd – a futuristic judge/jury/executioner who can decide a suspects fate in an instant.
One fine morning before patrolling Mega-City One he’s assigned a psychic rookie partner – Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby). She’s inexperienced, wants to be a Judge and can get into people’s heads, all she needs is the right mentor to show her the ropes and ok her as being fit for duty.
With crime just oozing out of every crevice in this dismal future, it doesn’t take long for the pair to encounter a haven of deviants in the 200 story slum known as Peach Tree. The Judges attempt at maintaining some kind of order isn’t welcomed by the psychotic drug lord Ma-Ma. She locks Peach Trees down and sicks her loyal evil residents to dispose of the Judges who are now stuck inside with all these murderous crazies.
I enjoyed Dredd much more than I expected. It’s certainly not a complicated story. It’s mainly just a setup for action set-pieces. There’s really nothing radically unique about them, but they are entertaining. Dredd doesn’t shy away from its violence – it actually tries to enhance the blood flying around with slo-mo and CGI. Some of it works, some not, but the film moves at a nice brisk pace that it never got me bored with it.
The Judge Dredd character could be viewed as a pretty thankless role. What actor would want his face obscured for an entire film….besides Andy Serkis. But Urban manages to give a Dirty Harry-ish aura around his Dredd. He’s the taciturn hero who when he talks says the perfect thing and will easily take care of business. He must of gotten tired of doing that grimace with his mouth the whole time.
Thirlby is very likable with her rookie psychic role and actually gets some stuff do playing mind games and getting in on the action. The villain Ma-Ma played by Lena Headly is a pretty twisted character. She’s a worthwhile adversary and illustrates this out of control world Dredd works in. Overall the production design of Dredd really offers up a captivating wasteland future that is a cool canvas to tell this action story against.
I’ll say this since I think everyone who talks about Dredd says it:
One can’t help be reminded of The Raid: Redemption while watching Dredd. It’s almost an identical setup to that Indonesian action flick. However, The Raid delivered on the nonstop, gory, action in a much more satisfying way than Dredd does. Not to say Dredd isn’t effective for what it is. The setting of Mega-City One, the weapons, the rules (or lack of rules), a very straightforward mission, it all adds up to a fun Saturday late night flick to watch and action fans should enjoy it.
Dredd was released in 3D and I’m betting a lot of the slo-mo effects were used to dazzle 3D lovers. Towards the beginning of the film I liked it, but after awhile it did start to get old for me after awhile. It’s probably not going to happen considering the extremely small box-office the film ended up doing, but I would be up to seeing Urban’s Dredd return for another adventure. Dredd’s world leaves open an endless amount of stories to explore.
By the way, I find it pretty funny how so many reviews of Dredd mention the 1995 Sylvester Stallone Judge Dredd and cite how abysmal that film is in comparison. I had no idea so many people saw that flick! I thought it was just a handful of us that caught it on cable and quickly tried to forget it.