Action (Sci-Fi, Comic Book)
Running Time: 95 minutes
Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey
Directed By: Pete Travis
Rating: 5 out of 10
Two futuristic police officers must fight their way out of a crime riddled building.
Here is another example of an unnecessary Hollywood remake. The first movie is a classic and shouldn’t have been touched………………………………………………….I was just waiting for your laughter to stop. Obviously, I am joking, as the original film had Rob Schneider in it. End of story. Dredd is the story of a futuristic world in an apocalyptic state. Civilization finds itself in a giant, walled in city, and is protected by the police. (Who are called Judges.) The police act as judge, jury, and executioner in an attempt to battle the overwhelming crime rate. This movie sees a Judge called Dredd; team up with a rookie in an attempt to take down a local drug lord.
This film had a Robocop/Raid Redemption type feel to it which is not entirely bad. Let us forget about the original Stallone version of this film. I am sure most of you already have. I will not try and compare the two movies for there is little worth in doing so. Let me just say that while this film is no gem, it is waaaaaaaaaaaaay better than its predecessor. The opening scene sees Dredd patrolling the streets on his futuristic motorbike. It is just another day in this crime riddled city, and that means tons of murders and felonies are being committed. Dredd quickly becomes engaged with some criminals in a high speed pursuit. The chase does a nice job of establishing the tone for the movie. It establishes that the city streets are dirty and highly populated. It establishes that the criminals are addicted to a new drug. (Which makes everything appear glittery and in slow motion.) It establishes that this movie is going to have an impossibly high body count, as pedestrians are blown apart with little care. Lastly, it establishes that this movie is going to be a very bloody, hour and a half. After some inane scenes of establishing that Dredd is the badass of all badasses, we find ourselves following him and a rookie as they enter a high rise building. (It is basically a 200 floor city.) What should be a routine drug bust turns ugly, as they become trapped in this building and must fight for their lives. They have found themselves in a place run by a maniacal drug lord who goes by the name of Ma-Ma. (All I can think of is the elevator scene from Liar Liar when I hear Ma-Ma.) She unleashes her buildings fury on the Judges for simply being at the wrong place at the wrong time. The action sequences are enjoyable if not always good. Sometimes the filming goes into slow motion and you get to see bullets rip through throats, torsos, and other extremities. It is awesome in its high detailed goriness. Other times the action happens so fast that all you see is a CGI blood mist and little else (which is disappointing.) No matter what the scenario though, watching Dredd cut his way through the bad guys is always a good time.
Dredd is played by Karl Urban, and say what you want about the guy, he is exceptional at mimicry. He is a brilliant younger version of Bones (DeForest Kelley) in Star Trek, and he is an eerily similar version of a young Dredd (Sylvester Stallone) in this film. I like Urban, and while this role was not hard to play, he was never the less enjoyable to watch in it. He could have toned done the Christian Bale voice from Batman, but he was solid for the entire film. The rookie is played by Olivia Thirlby, and her presence is merely for some femininity in the film and little else. She is fine in the role, but it could have been played by anyone in Hollywood. Lastly, Ma-Ma was played by Lena Headey. (Damn you Cersei Lannister!) Heady is great as the drug queenpin. With her scarred visage and her barely contained rage, I felt she could have used a little more screen time.
As the film continues, the Judge duo has little recourse but to head upward in the building as they are locked in for the long haul. I felt Dredd’s signature weapon is actually the films downfall. If you are unfamiliar with the Dredd story then his gun is kind of like a Batman utility belt. It has different ammo for every situation, and of course Dredd finds himself in every situation where that special ammo is needed. Incendiary rounds, heat bullets, armor piercing bullets, and exploding bullets, is a lot of cheesiness to sit through. I also felt the bad guys in the building were the epitome of cannon fodder. They would line up in rows, they would bunch together in small rooms, and they would run into places with little regard for their own safety. Once again it is a lot of cheesiness to sit through. But because the film is little more than the two Judges moving up the building, floor by floor, it is always a bloody good time. As the film comes to its predictable final encounter, the question is will anyone make it out of this building of terror, alive? In conclusion, this film is a brainless 95 minutes, but it is also a fun 95 minutes. Dredd shoots and bad guys die. Dredd shoots some more, and more bad guys die. I think you understand the formula. If they left out his stupid gun and tightened up some of the action sequences then this film would have been a success.
Director Pete Travis (Vantage Point) did a lot right in this film, but also did a lot wrong. The positives were: the casting was good, the body count was high, and the humor was kept to a minimum. Some of the action scenes were solid and the film was always fun. The negatives: the editing was off (Judges would jump 50 floors without explanation.) Some of the action is a blurry mess, some weak CGI on the kill shots, and the overuse of the glittery drug sequences. Overall, I felt he did an above average job and he probably connected with most of this films core audience.
I cannot recommend this film as it missed that fine line between realism and comic book style.
T Factor + If you are an action lover then this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you like your movies to have solid story lines then this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Raid Redemption, Babylon A.D.