Netflix added Dredd (2012) yesteday, so I finally decided it was time to see it. I wanted to watch it in the theaters but I’m lazy and cheap. I wanted to rent it from Redbox but I’m lazy and I guess even more cheap than I thought. Anyway, whatever. It done been seen, son.
How did I like it? I actually really liked it. I hadn’t read up on it, so I didn’t know what to expect. Karl Urban (Dr. McCoy on Star Trek) plays Dredd and handles himself quite well right up to the credible Dredd scowl. I liked Olivia Thurbey as Judge Anderson. She wasn’t a waif or some over-wrought tough girl. She just did her part in playing a character I could believe in. Another one of my favorite scowlers, Lena Headey, convincingly played the nutty antagonist as well.
I was surprised that almost the entire movie was held in a single massive building. I like my action films to mix it up with lots of different locations (i.e., Bond and Bourne), but Dredd kept it close to the vest and pulled it off neatly. The progression of the film was well-paced and the script stayed away from unnecessary complications. There are no major plot twists and the ending was exactly the way it should have been without the annoying sentimentality that pervades so many action movies. Who the hell needs a bunch of platitudes, unspoken endearment, and good-natured Happy Hour ribbing at a bar?
Plot summary: The film is set about a century from now, I think, although I don’t understand why people are driving vehicles from the 1980s to now. Surely there would have been at least different looking cars in the future especially since Volkswagen buses most surely can’t run for over 100 years. Anyway, the world has gone to shit and most of the population in the United States is now located in massive pollution and crime-choked cities. Huge buildings have been constructed to house entire communities. Unemployment and social discontent is pervasive. To manage law and order as best as possible, “judges” work the streets as sanctioned police, judge, jury, and execution authorities.
The main protagonist of the story is Judge Dredd, a bad-ass dude with a reputation to be respected. He has just been assigned a rookie named Anderson who is a powerful mutant psychic but who failed out of the judge academy. Because of her psychic powers, the chief wants to give her a shot at proving herself on the streets. Dredd is tasked with mentoring her to see if she can pass muster.
While out on patrol, Dredd and Anderson respond to a report of a triple-murder at the Peachtree complex, a monolithic 200-story building that houses 75,000 residents, most of whom are unemployed. Dredd and Anderson discover that the murders are tied to a new drug called Slow-Mo. The drug’s users experience a unique sensation of time slowing down to 1% of normal speed. The special 3-D technology that showed what that experience looked like was incredible. That alone was worth watching.
The criminal activity in the building is run by Ma-Ma, a scar-faced former prostitute with ambition and a psychotic temperament. She exudes a calm exterior but that only makes her more frightening when she passes her own judgment on enemies and followers alike. Ma-Ma gives the order to shut down the building when the judges discover one of the primary perpetrators for the murders, a close acolyte of Ma-Ma’s named Kay. Fearing that his interrogation could yield information on Ma-Ma’s criminal network, she announces to the entire building that the judges are not to leave alive. So begins the cat-and-mouse game that runs most of the rest of the movie.
This is a furiously violent film. Lots of bodies explode and lots of people die. If you haven’t seen it yet and you’re a fan of the comics, I’d say this is one adaptation that’s worthy of carrying the name. Sure, films are always different than comics, but this film was actually as good as the source material, albeit differently. John Wagner, co-creator of Judge Dredd, gave it his blessing.
4.567 out of 5 stars
Here is a bunch of screen shots.