In 1995, the atrocity known as Judge Dredd was released. The readers of the comic books became very frustrated with this adaptation largely because it failed to create a balance between the violence and the humor. The result was an uninspired mess with an incredibly awkward performance by Sylvester Stallone in the tile role. Fast forward to the present where Lionsgate makes the gutsy move to distribute a new, R-rated film based on the British comic character. The majority studios would have likely watered the material down to target teenagers as the primary audience, but luckily Lionsgate did not opt for that. Instead we get a film for adults with a high amount of violence and gore. For those who are still on the fence about checking out Dredd on the big screen, go see it. This film features Judge Dredd in a way that both fans and newcomers can appreciate.
In the future, catastrophic wars have transformed Earth into a wasteland. The remaining megacities are incredibly overpopulated with a large amount of crime. In order to keep the citizens under control, the ultra violent Judges act as both law enforcement officers and executioners. Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is forced to take Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), a rookie who didn't pass the assessment, out for a test on the field. While investigating a triple homicide, the two Judges are trapped within a 200 story vertical slum. They have no choice but to fight their way up each floor to reach a gang and its leader, who is known as Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), who develops a drug known as "Slo-Mo," which makes the user experience reality at a fraction of its normal speed. The odds are stacked up against the Judges, but they must execute judgment one person at a time if they want to escape the confinements alive.
No matter what genre a film fits into, it's always crucial for the screenwriter(s) to entirely embrace what the film is trying to accomplish. Writer Alex Garland welcomes the violence and the humor with open arms. He has created a screenplay with a good balance between the action and the comedy. The story itself isn't anything original, but I can appreciate the fact that the filmmakers know what they wish to accomplish and never take it too seriously. There's a fair amount of humor, which fits into the film very well. It's used in order to take a breather from the brutality. Each time the action pumps back up, the film manages to kick it up another notch. The pacing in this 95 minute-long feature is fast and relentless. There's never a single dull moment among the constant action.
Judge Dredd is a character that audiences will root for. His action scenes are incredibly entertaining and quite a few of his one-liners are actually funny. The characters aren't expanded upon very much, but I'm perfectly content with that. We're given enough information to understand the motives of each role and a lot of the deeper characteristics come across subtlety throughout the chaos that unfolds from floor to floor. Not every movie has to be a character study. While Dredd isn't perfect and will inevitably be compared to other movies such as Robocop and The Raid: Redemption, it deserves to be appreciated on its own terms. This is an adrenaline rush that will have viewers sitting on the edge of their seats from start to finish.
Karl Urban delivers a cool, calm, and collected performance as Judge Dredd. There aren't very many dynamics to this role, but Urban conveys the manly brute force quite well. Olivia Thirlby is believable in executing the empathetic nature of Anderson. She does a good job displaying her uncertainty towards some of the violent force needed to be a Judge. Through her expressions, Thirlby opens the character's mind up to the viewers without directly having any narration. The antagonist of Dredd 3D is Lena Headey, starring as Ma-Ma. Headey isn't the incredibly vigorous villain that moviegoers are used to seeing, but she brings a dark and mysterious sense to the character, which works in her favor in this convincing performance.
Dredd delivers violence that not very many studios other than Lionsgate would wish to release. This is a hard R-rated action flick that doesn't hold back. There are some scenes shot in slow-motion, although it isn't utilized how you might think. There aren't an abundance of distracting action scenes with repetitive fast and slow shots. Whenever a character takes the "Slo-Mo" drug, the experience of the slow-motion is shared with the audience. It's a way of using the gimmick without making it feel too much like a cliché. The cinematography is great the entire feature, but the slow-motion portions are absolutely stunning. The 3D format isn't used to its full potential. There are a few sequences where there's some good depth, but the majority of the film looks flat. I also noticed some ghosting during some of the earlier scenes. It isn't worth spending the extra few dollars to see this in the 3D format.
Once Dredd hits theaters, I hope that its target audience goes to the theater and supports it. This isn't a movie for everybody, but anybody who enjoys a blood-soaked action film is sure to have fun with it. The motion picture exceeded my expectations and I hope that it receives the attention it deserves. If Dredd's story is to be continued in a sequel, I'm interested in seeing it if it's consistent with the quality of the first entry. Dredd is a supercharged action movie that isn't afraid to get dirty. Don't miss this incredibly entertaining film.