Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey
Judge Dredd (Urban) is commanded to evaluate newly commissioned trainee Judge Anderson (Thirlby). Their first mission takes them into a high rise complex called ‘Peach Trees’, run by the ruthless drug deal ‘Ma Ma’ (Headey). They arrest a member of Ma Ma’s crew, but Ma Ma locks the building down and orders the residents to kill the judges. Mayhem ensues.
I went into this movie hoping against hope for an all out, balls to the wall action monster of a film. I what I got wasn’t far from it. The plot, as outlined above, pits Dredd and his rookie trainee judge against a fearsome drug cartel lead by the unhinged Ma Ma. When Dredd makes an arrest of one of her top ’employees’, Ma Ma sees trouble. Fearing what secrets the employee may give up during interrogation, Ma Ma locks the building down and orders the residents to kill the judges. This sets up an orgy of death and destruction.
Dredd is a character I am vaguely familiar with. He is violent, obsessive and without pity. He also scowls. A lot. Like, all the time. It’s a trade mark of the character, and Urban does a good job maintaining it throughout the film. I tried it myself, but after a little while, the muscles around my mouth ached terribly. So, props to Urban for keeping the scowl up so well.
The effects were good, but not great. Blood splatter from gunshot wounds was obviously CGI. I don’t mind this a whole lot, but it is obviously fake and did, at times, draw my out of the story. A person bugbear of mine is when the lighting used on the effect is clearly different from the lighting in the room that the characters are filming in, and this occurred a number of times during the movie.
The body count was huge. This movie is not a relative, or even close associate, of the Stallone lead Judge Dredd film from the 90’s. Bodies are blown apart, set on fire, skinned, splattered and exploded with incredible regularity. I couldn’t guess the number of deaths that are portrayed on the screen, but it must have been at least 100. It really took me back to the action movies of the 80’s, when human life on screen meant little.
Headey isn’t given a lot to do in this film, but she does it with menace and insanity. Her character is believably played, even if she does come to a rather predictable end.
Overall, I really enjoyed this film. It delivered what I expected – violence, death, destruction. It didn’t try and do too much, it didn’t try and expand the Dredd character, give him a love interest or a sad backstory. He simply is what he is – the law given violent form.
Rating: 7/10 – I would happily watch this again and hope to see Urban back as Dredd in the future.