Remember when Sylvester Stallone played Judge Dredd, the incredibly popular comic book anti-hero who along with judge was also jury and executioner? Well me neither! This time round, Karl Urban has taken the roll of Judge Dredd; but does he kick enough ass to make for an awesome comic book action flick? Find out after the jump.
Set in a violent, futuristic and nihilistic world Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) and a rookie cop Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) team up to take down Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) an exceptionally ruthless and violent drug kingpin who is responsible for the distribution of a lethal drug appropriately titled ‘slo mo’ (gee, I wonder if there will be any slow-motion set pieces in the film?). As Ma-Ma is the leader of the city and controls a large portion of the law enforcement, Dredd and Anderson are on their own in their quest to take her down. But with her clairvoyant abilities and his pure bad-assery, they are more than a force to be reckoned with.
The screenplay was written by Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Sunshine) and it shows, although the dialogue resembles nothing close to Shakespeare. The film is bursting at the seams with creativity in its plot (believe it or not, it has one, weird, isn’t it?). The characters, although not incredibly complex are still likable and effective, especially Dredd who spends the entire film wearing a helmet, grunting and speaks as if he’s selling an ab master 5000 or challenging Batman in best laryngectomy voice; despite this he’s still incredibly likable and we get to love almost every thing he does. Olivia Thirlby and Lena Headey are also both excellent, each putting in a noticeable effort so they’re not just cardboard cutout stock characters. Again kudos to the screenplay.
The film however is not without its flaws, especially in its characters; Ma Ma although played wonderfully by Heady, is still a one-dimensional villain, far more interesting than some recent on screen villains yet still could have had more to work with. The action in Dredd, (which is what most who have seen the trailer or are familiar with the graphic novel will be excited for) is stylized to no end, but it’s also consistent, bad-ass, brutal and exhilarating. It’s the film’s great strength. Dredd belongs to a long line of action movies where style is the substance and it is proud of it. Dredd sticks to being dark, brutal and intriguing as opposed to being silly, which makes it all the more entertaining and somewhat of a revelation in regards to its genre.
It’s that violent, no-mercy given comic book based action film you’ve been waiting for. It’s not brilliant, it’s not revolutionary, but it certainly confirms why style and creativity are what can make a great piece of cinematic entertainment.
By Chris Elena
Director: Pete Travis
Writer(s): Alex Garland, Carlos Ezquerra (Characters), John Wagner (characters)
Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Heady
Runtime: 95 Minutes
Release Date(s): Australia: October 25, 2012; New Zealand: October 4, 2012; USA: September 21, 2012