Friday, 12 April 2013
Set in an irradiated America, where everyone now lives within the walls of Mega cities. Our film takes place within Mega City One, a chaotic, violent metropolis, which stretches from Boston to Washington D.C and is home to some 800 million people, and is ruled by criminal gangs. There is some order and this comes in the form of the men and women of The Hall of Justice. They dispense justice, there on the spot... they are Judges, Juries and if need be... Executioners... They are the Law.
Judge Dredd is known and feared. On a routine day he is assigned the duty of assessing Judge in training, Cassandra Anderson, who also happens to have a genetic mutation giving her psychic abilities. Soon into their day they are called to one of the city's 200 storey slum mega tower blocks and the scene of three brutal murders. Dredd and Anderson are told by one of the medics on scene that these deaths may have something to do with the Ma Ma, a prostitute turned criminal clan leader, who runs the block, from the upper floors, with fear and profits from the manufacture and distribution of the newest drug on the street Slow Mo. A drug which does what it says on the tin, so to speak, it gives the user the perception of the world being slowed. Dredd decides they will investigate, without backup. They manage to apprehend Ma Ma's number 2. She fear's that this will lead the Judge's getting information about her operation, so decides to lock down the entire block to stop Dredd and Anderson getting out and any help getting in, leaving the Judge's no option, but to fight their way out.......
I had read and heard many criticising Dredd for being exactly the same as the very fine The Raid. Well... if you want to be reductionist about it, then yes the plots of both films are the same, both involve police going into a tower block to arrest the big kahuna at the top and having to survive and fight their way through the entire gang to do it. This would be like saying that Home Alone and Straw Dogs are exactly the same, because they are essentially home invasion films. This is just silly. Dredd is totally different. Whereas The Raid is a brutal balletic film, Dredd is for me, Dirty 'Harry' Callahan, without the breaking of rules, meets Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch.
I have to admit to getting pretty fed up of seeing endless and the total overuse of slow-mo, but for Dredd it is very justified. In fact I found the slow-mo scenes involving the films drug, Slow Mo, quite beautiful to watch and as for shoot out scenes, the slow-mo work made them more brutal.
My knowledge of the history of the character of Dredd is very limited, but from what I do know, this is a pretty faithful adaptation of the very long running 2000 AD dispenser of justice. I think Karl Urban (Star Trek, R.E.D, LoTR) is pretty terrific as Judge Dredd. This is how Dredd should have been played before, not that god awful version Stallone version did in the 90's. It is very ably directed by Pete Travis (Vantage Point). Urban is well supported by Oliver Thirlby as Anderson (Bored to Death, Juno), Wood Harris (Avon Barksdale in The Wire) Kay, Ma Ma's number 2 and Lena Headey (Game of Thrones, 300) as Madeline Madrigal (Ma Ma). It's actually a refreshing change to have the head honcho of the criminal gang being a brutal, hard as nails woman.
I really liked this film. It is how I had expected a film adaptation about Judge Dredd should be. Full on brutal 18 certificate, with absolutely no comedy sidekicks. It's just bitter sweet that unfortunately there won't be any further trips into Mega City One, well at least on film, as I would have liked to have seen this world expanded. If no more movies, it would be great to see a Dredd HBO/Showtime style tv show, as I think this would be perfect.