Directed by Pete Travis (Henry VIII (2003), Endgame (2009)).
Written by Alex Garland (28 Days Later (2002), Never Let Me Go (2010)).
Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Warrick Grier, Wood Harris, Domnhall Gleeson and others.
Sadly in the public mind Judge Dredd is most often associated with the 90’s Stallone movie, and even though I thought it was ok as a kid, deep inside I knew it was shit and never cared to find out more about Judge Dredd. Had I seen this movie as a kid, I would have been running around with a bicycle helmet on my head for at least a week. I can’t stress this enough – this is not a remake of Judge Dredd (1995), this is another adaptation of the comics.
It’s the future, Judges are like the last thing that upholds the law. Dredd is one of those Judges and one day on his patrol he is forced to take a rookie female Judge with him. They both go to an apartment block, to investigate brutal triple homicide. They crash into this apartment, where gang members are dealing and using drugs, they arrest one of them to interrogate, but the gang leader learns of this and closes of the block, locking Dredd and rookie Anderson inside it. They have to find a way to get out of there alive.
This is just one of the things I loved about the movie – it’s on a limited scale and period of time. It’s basically a ‘day-in-the-life’ story about Dredd. It’s simple, yet not simplistic. The setting is also cool, because, despite being a dystopian future, it’s not over-the-top, it’s very believable.
The gang uses a new drug called ‘Slo-mo’, guess what it does? Nice to see a movie, where there’s actual reason for using slow motion. The slow motion shots are just beautiful, combined with 3D and sometimes gore, that’s just art. The 3D use is actually the best I’ve seen so far in any movie, the compositions are great, it doesn’t feel forced or gimmicky, while adding to the entertainment.
Judge Dredd himself is really cool. Yes, the helmet is always on, which is a thankless role for Karl Urban, who did an amazing job, being virtually unrecognisable, but adding so much personality to a character, who is supposed to be the faceless hand of law. He seems pissed off, but doesn’t lose his cool, he’s not arrogant, but is confident, he doesn’t have any huge character arc or romance pushed onto him. At the end of the movie he hasn’t changed, his opinion about something might have changed, but not him as a character.
Both the side-kick rookie Judge Anderson and gang leader Ma-Ma are both great, not being more than they should be, but suggestive of much deeper characters than we’re shown.
Overall, one of the best action movies of the year, a comic book movie not afraid of the letter „R”, but probably suffering at the box office due to that fact, combined with the previous adaptation of the character and pretty low awareness about the movie. Go see it, while it’s in the theatres, first time I can really say it’s worth to go see a movie in 3D. Definitely recommended.