If truth be told I liked 1995’s Judge Dredd. It may not have been what I wanted but it had a decent story, visuals and some interesting sci-fi elements. However, 2012’s Dredd is what I ordered and it delivered.
Judge Dredd and his trainee sidekick Anderson investigate three homicides in the The Peach Tree block of Mega City 1. However, they find themselves trapped and hunted down in the Megablock by a ruthless drug lord Ma-ma and her gang.
Writer Alex Garland’s use of the indoor setting adds a claustrophobic feel and it’s less comedic and sweeping than Judge Dredd (1995).Director Pete Travis’ slow motion use in segments are novel and graphic and not used as a gimmick, as with The Matrix for example, it serves the story in this case to portray the effects of the drug Slow-mo.
Likable Olivia Thirlby’s acting is perfect, her psychic character Anderson is the most intriguing and you care about the rookie going through her paces along side Dredd. Although Lena Headey as Ma-Ma is debatably less effective here the balance is restored with Karl Urban’s screen presence as Judge Dredd, Urban is probably one of the few character actors of the genre that could pull off such a hard hitting role. Thirlby and Urban have great chemistry and the script has some great one liners without going over the top.
Dredd doesn’t try to be anything it’s not, nothing feels forced and its linear story is probably it’s biggest strength, it’s a day in the life of Dredd, on the job. It’s dark, it’s gritty, it’s ominous and hard hitting. There are plenty of surprises but it doesn’t try to be too clever and there is a natural progression of the well crafted action setups.
With accompanying pumping music from Paul Leonard-Morgan, Travis delivers on excitement, not since Robocop (1987) (which it arguably surpasses) has sci-fi been so satisfying, entertaining, yet, violent in a stylistic grounded fashion. Highly recommended.