Judge Dredd, 2000 AD’s comic hero, was left in the cold after an underwhelming attempt to bring the character to the big screen in 1995. Now with a British team in tow, Dredd gets the 3D treatment and a much-needed revamp.
The world is now a wasteland. In North America lies Mega-City One: a violent city where 17,000 crimes are reported every day. The only force of order comes from “Judges” with the combined powers of judge, jury and executioner. In a 200-story slum tower block, a brutal drug lord, Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), intoxicates three men with “Slo-Mo”, a new drug that slows perception of time. The skinned bodies of those unfortunate men are thrown from the tower and alarm the authorities. Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) and rookie Judge Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) respond to the incident but once Ma-Ma gets word of their presence the building is closed off, trapping them. Let justice commence.
Dredd 3D may not carry the emotional depth conveyed in The Dark Knight Rises, neither does it conjure up the family friendly action in The Avengers, but it stands out from the crowd on its own terms. Director Pete Travis doesn’t shy away from violence; he avoids grovelling down to a younger audience and constructs a film true to its source material. It’s an exciting vision from Travis, the gloomy tone, striking camerawork and superb effects set a high standard, and a pinch of humour gives it an additional boost.
The downside is there’s a miniscule amount of character development. Dredd is calm and collected, and a “cool” lead but may be too reserved. His situation is never explained, focusing more on the supporting role of Cassandra Anderson. However, each character is well acted. Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby make a solid team and Lena Headey is perfect as the bloodthirsty villain.
Dredd is a remake that impresses. Its daring nature and simplistic narrative makes way for a badass protagonist and a gory feast.
Ben has awarded Dredd 3D four Torches of Truth.