Dredd - Review

I have to admit that despite all the criticism about Stallone's 1995 Judge Dredd movie, it is a guilty pleasure of mine. The 1995 version is a good Stallone movie but a bad Judge Dredd movie.
With that said, for me there still isn't a specific movie adaptation of the Judge Dredd comics...until now.
With the reboot starring Karl Urban, who conveniently NEVER takes of his helmet during the movie (thank god), and amped up violence, there is some new hope.
Do Karl Urban (who tends to be in many shitty but also good movies) and unknown director Pete Travis nail it? Or is the sentence for this reboot "failure"?    

The plot:
In a violent, futuristic city where the police have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner, a cop (Karl Urban) teams with a trainee (Olivia Thirlby) to take down a gang that deals the reality-altering drug, Slo-Mo.  (source: IMDb)

Dredd's plot is extremely simple. It may remind one of The Raid's plot quite heavily, with drug dealing gangs being locked down in a huge tower with our heroes trying to survive and accomplish their mission.
In terms of plot twists there's also not that much to expect. Of course there are some little twists and turns the story takes along the way but nothing huge. It's overall standard action movie territory.
Up until now, Dredd's story may sound very boring, but it's simplicity is where it's strength lies.

Dredd mainly focuses on the action and atmosphere aspects of its story. The futuristic world of Mega-City is exquisitly depicted here. The clean look of the 1995 version is gone and instead replaced with a world that actually looks like a post-apocalyptic, crumbling giant city. With that, it stays very true to the Mega-City from the actual comics.

Stallone's version lacked the feel of a city that was forced to operate with drastic measures like the Judges. The Judges are not exactly the heroes of the city but rather a necessary evil. Crime in Mega-City became so uncontrollable that a force that combines judge, jury and executioner in one sadly has become necessary to contain it. Dredd absolutely succeeds in showing that dirty world of Mega-City.
Unfortunately the political aspects about this world are untapped in Dredd. Let's hope we discover more about them in a possible sequel.

Today's menu: JUSTICE!

As predicted, Dredd doesn't really hold powerhouse acting performances. Nevertheless, every actor in the movie fills out his role pretty good.

Karl Urban turns out to be a very effective and good Judge Dredd. You really buy his badass character and complete devotion to the law and his duty. Thankfully, Karl Urban avoids the selfish bullshit of showing his face in favor of staying true to the source material (in which Dredd's face is never shown). A very controversial aspect about Stallone's version back in the day.
While there are no big emotional turns in Urban's performance, he is an excellent Judge Dredd and was a perfect casting choice for the role of the main protagonist.

Olivia Thirlby plays Judge Anderson, Dredd's rookie sidekick. She is responsible for the main emotional part of the story. She does great as a lone, young, female Judge who wants to make Mega-City a better place and change things, although criticizing the Judges' methods of achieving this. Anderson is supposed to be the relatable character in the story, who goes through a character development: From serving the government, to questioning it and just wanting to survive the mission. Her character was necessary to make the movie not feel soulless. And in that regard she served her purpose quite well.

Anderson seems to like collecting headshots.

Lena Headey is always good at playing assholes. Whether it is in Game of Thrones or in Dredd, she nails the badass woman approach. As the gang's leader Ma-Ma, she definitely has the looks of a psyched bitch of a druglord. Unfortunately, her role as the big evil mastermind feels more like just another obstacle for Judge Dredd to overcome to accomplish his mission. Without her henchmen, she comes over very lame and not a big threat at all. They could at least gave her a gun to shoot at Dredd once in a while. Her character needed more action and generally more attention. 

You can say what you want, but Stallone's version actually did have some quite good "stallone-ish" 90's action. Nevertheless, the action there felt way too clean compared to the comics.
This is where Dredd absolutely nails it.
Along with the better depiction of a dirtier and grittier Mega-City, there also is much more bloody and gory violence. Instead of guys just falling down from gunshots, you actually see faces torn apart, people getting squashed, and other bloody action set-piece moments (mostly thanks to the slow-motion effect by the slo-mo drug).
Yet still, personally i would have wished there were even more action scenes in the movie, but that's just me.

The action is good but i would've liked to see even more of it.

Overall, I honestly didn't think Dredd would hold up nearly as well as it actually does. It's one of those rare reboots that actually work. While you can see that Dredd was filmed on a pretty low budget, director Pete Travis nailed not only the look but the entire atmosphere of the source material. From the look of the world to the characters and performances, Dredd manages to tell an own original story while convincingly doing so in the universe of the bloody violent comics.
Some may be turned off by the fairly simple (and familiar) plot, but i would suggest to give Dredd a chance to suprise you.
It's a savely played, solid action movie that lays a great foundation for a possible sequel to expand Judge Dredd's world by staying true to the original comics.


Final Verdict: 6 out of 10 

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