Are you one of the five people that really liked the Sylvester Stallone Judge Dredd movie? Were you looking forward to overly complicated back stories, and seeing a lot of Dredd’s face? Did you think Rob Schneider was the perfect person to star in a Judge Dredd movie because he would provide a nice level of comedic support? If your answer was yes to any of these questions, then you are a horrible person, and this new Dredd movie is not for you.
Directed by Pete Travis
Written by Alex Garland
Karl Urban as Judge Dredd
Olivia Thirlby as Anderson
Lena Headey as Ma-ma
Wood Harris as Kay
Dredd takes Judge applicant Anderson to the Peach Tree tower to investigate 3 bodies that had fallen from several stories up. During the course of their short investigation, they take Kay prisoner. Kay is an upper officer in Ma-ma’s gang. Ma-ma’s gang are the producers of a new drug called Slo-Mo, and have forced other gangs in the tower out. Not wanting Kay to be interrogated, Ma-ma sends her gang after Dredd and Anderson. With the tower locked down, Dredd and Anderson must fight their way to Ma-ma.
No, that doesn’t sound like much of a plot, but it is enough. You don’t need some complicated story for a Judge Dredd movie. You need someone with criminal intentions, a character named Dredd that looks and acts like Dredd, and a lot of action. I mean, a lot of action. You are looking for the shootout aspect of dystopian future, and not standard detective work. And this movie has all 3 of those elements. In fact, I would say that this is likely as good of a Judge Dredd movie we are likely to see. Does that make it a great movie. Not really, but it’s still enjoyable if you like the character.
Karl Urban made a fine Judge Dredd. His chin was properly grizzled. His emotional level didn’t stray very far up or down from normal. And that’s pretty much it. But again, that’s all you need. Dredd is not a character that you should be taking artistic liberties with. Dredd is Dredd, and if you stray from what Dredd is, then you have to ask yourself why you are making a Judge Dredd movie. If you want to show emotion, that is what the supporting cast is for. And this movie gets that. It doesn’t try to do too much…mostly.
I say mostly because I do have a complaint about the movie. The main drug in the movie is an inhalant called Slo-Mo. As you may have guessed, if you are one prone to guessing the effects of made up drugs, is that it slows down the perception of the person that is taking it. Translation, it is an excuse to use a lot of slow motion effects. I found these moments often took me out of the movie. I was never thinking, ‘man, this looks cool.’ I was always thinking, ‘man, I wish they would get back to the action.’ But maybe the effect loses something when being viewed at home, and not in a theater in 3D.
In the end, I do recommend that you watch this movie. Like I said, it is probably as good a Judge Dredd movie that we’re going to get, because it doesn’t try to be anything more than a Judge Dredd movie. I compare it, favorably, to Punisher: War Zone. That was another movie that stuck with what it was, and didn’t try to be anything more.