Based off the fantastic comic book we follow Judge Dredd(Karl Urban), a future version of a police officer who is judge, jury and executioner all in one. In this said future most of the planet has been destroyed by nuclear war. In America the last city left standing is Mega City One. Here people live in slum like high rises that fit almost a million people. In one of these buildings a drug lord named Mama(Lena Headey) is mass producing a new drug named “slo-mo” which for the viewer literally puts everything is slow motion. When Mama murders three men(she has them skinned and thrown from a top floor of the building) Judge Dredd and a rookie under his watch with a nifty telepathic power named Judge Anderson(Olivia Thirlby) show up. Not wanting her operation shut down Mama locks and seals the building and then puts a price on the Judge’s heads. Every gang member or scum bag with a gun comes after them and Dredd and Anderson must fight their way up to the top to find Mama.
I wouldn’t call this movie a reboot, there was a movie called Judge Dredd in 1995 starring Slyvester Stallone, and even though that movie has its moments it’s pretty lame over all. This movie on the other hand isn’t messing around and stays real close to the source material. Karl Urban seems like the perfect Dredd and I must give him serious props for keeping his helmet on for the entire movie. Most actors agents would flip out over this but Urban understands that’s what the fans of Dredd want and he delivered. Urban plays Dredd with a hard edge, he does not blink at killing bag guys and is all about bringing the law to those who deserve it. Olivia Thirlby is really strong here as she has to counter balance Dredd. Her character Anderson blinks many times in the face of violence and doesn’t exactly play by the book that the Judges all abide by. She is really strong in moments where her powers are put into play, she has to dive into the minds of some seriously sick individuals and we can see this effects her.
Another stand out to me Lena Headey who departs from her usual roles to play a real messed up chick here. I’m not talking about the scars on her face, Mama will do anything for power. She doesn’t blink at death and doesn’t care how many people are killed to get her way. The film also nicely avoids any deep social commentary, since Dredd’s character could be seen a facists wet dream things could get complicated. They never do, at no real point do you ever think Dredd is really out of line. The villians in this movie are so nasty and violent you care very little what happens to them. Even though Anderson does balance out the morality in many scenes that helps us see Dredd as more of a super cop than a killing machine.
The greatest part of Dredd is the use of slow motion, here is the main reason you should see this in 3D it is almost beautiful to witness. Now sure it is used for some serious gore(guys getting shot in the face in slow motion) but the ultra-violence works here. It reminded me of 80’s action movies(You know when studio’s had balls to make bad ass action films). So in many ways Dredd feels like a throw back but with the top notch 3D there is a great added element.
The movie is rather short though running around ninety minutes, I would have loved more and I hope this movie gains a big following. I feel like the effort put in by the creative minds behind this film and Urban makes this deserve a franchise. Would love one or two more Dredd films from these people. They would be action classics.