Walking into a movie that is a remake (or a reboot/reinterpretation) of a film that you are already familiar with is a daunting task-there are predetermined expectations in your mind as to what you need to see. Simply watching a trailer of a new movie, that is from an established franchise, will bring on questions like “What do you mean Quaid is not on Mars?” & “Where is Mary Jane?”.
All doubts about Dredd being a mediocre mess were cleansed away during the opening Karl Urban monologue. The infamous judge paints a world that more closely resembles our modern world than the Stallone version. In that monologue was a sense of frustration, but determination to the job of policing a megacity that stretches from Boston to D.C. Dredd’s first case is chasing Slo-Mo using criminals down a busy street. After the Slo-Mo loving individuals hit a pedestrian, and shoot at Dredd, the Judge takes action with the coolest police takedown method known to date. This quickly establishes that at the drop of a hat, Dredd will hand out a verdict and punishment.
The real fun begins when three bodies are found on the ground floor of a 200 story “city block”. How did they get there? They were thrown from the top floor by scarred Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), the Slo-Mo pushing queen of Peach Trees city block. Dredd and his rookie partner Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) respond to the call. Starting on the ground floor, Dredd and Anderson’s goal is to reach the top; once they are locked in the building with Ma-Ma and her foot soldiers.
If you have seen The Raid: Redemption, then Dredd will be right up your alley. Both movies share similar themes (like cops having to fight up multiple floors of criminals). Dredd just has 10 times bigger of an ordeal to walk confidently through. Scenes where the side-effects of Slo-Mo are shown to the audience are vivid & translucent…and in slow motion (go figure).
My only complaint about the movie is one scene where Dredd is about to breach a room, and does not utilize the psychic abilities that Anderson possesses (maybe she is not psychic through doors?). That is where the complaint department stops. Dredd is an action-packed, bloody-fun ride. Take a body size piece of sandpaper, remove the 90’s cheesiness from the character you already know, and throw some dirt on the open wounds. When the wounds heal, you get a stripped-down, gritty, fun-tastic flick that will not disappoint. The line “I am the law” is not forced out in some harrowing scream, it is presented as a fact. In Judge Dredd, there was a scene where Stallone is stripped of his uniform in open court. None of that garbage is in Dredd. Karl Urban is successful in staying true to the badge, and keeping his helmet on the whole time.
Like Lockout (in my opinion, another great sci-fi movie released this year), I give Dredd 4 stars.