Although I hadn’t read the comics, I was generally aware of Judge Dredd, the hero of the new and second movie based on this character which stars Karl Urban (Star Trek, Red) as Dredd.
Set in a future where most of the population resides in a massive city that stretches across most of the east coast of the United States, criminals and the police force known as Judges battle it out among the general population within this city. Judges, are; police, judge, jury, and executioner of all crimes within the sprawling city. This city is Mega City One, which resembles a mash up of Robocop’s Old Detroit and the super skyscrapers of Blade Runner. This particular tale follows Judge Dredd as he fights crime and evaluates a rookie, Judge Anderson, played by Olivia Thirlby (The Darkest Hour, Juno). Fans of the comic series will recognize the character of Judge Anderson as the powerful psychic of the psi-division of Judges.
A huge skyscraper becomes the scene of a crime where a few dead drug pushers are found to have been dropped to their deaths on the lobby floor. Dredd and Anderson find that the two hundred floor residential tower is run by a crime boss named Ma-Ma, a former prostitute that has taken over the tower and uses it to deal out a drug called Slow-Mo. This drug, when inhaled, alters the user’s perception of time to a fraction of reality. Ma-Ma, played by Lena Headey (Game of Thrones, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), locks down the entire tower with Dredd and Anderson still inside. She enlists the residents, her thugs and junkies, to hunt down and kill the judges. This seems to be a popular theme for movies this year (see Raid: The Redemption).
From the ground floor to the penthouse, bullets fly, bodies explode, and floors are destroyed. There are not very many twists and turns, this is a straight forward action film. Karl Urban does an okay job as the action hero, though he never takes off his helmet the entire movie. Evidently, this is a nod to the comic’s vision of the ‘faceless, emotionless lawman’. He Batman-like growls his way through his lines, but seems up for the job of action hero. Equally as good at her role is Thirlby, who has some interesting scenes. She falls prey to the junkies and requires rescuing like most rookie partners. Headey as scar-faced Ma-Ma plays the psychotic ruler as well as her Game of Thrones character.
Dredd was a fun Saturday morning movie, while leaps and bounds above the previous Judge Dredd starring Sylvester Stallone, is still a basic, formulaic movie. Really no surprises or jaw dropping moments, at least for someone like me that watches a lot of movies.
I would give this movie 2 1/2 out of 4 Blasters. If you are a fan of the comic – it is a definite must see, just to erase the memories of that horrible first attempt. I can only pray for the same treatment to Green Lantern!
Check out the trailer for Dredd 3D:
Go forth and be awesome!