Dredd 3D (2012) is a simple film: bad guys out of control, send in a bad-ass to take control. But thanks to the incredibly lame Sylvester Stallone/Rob Schneider vehicle Judge Dredd (1995), it’s also a film that finds itself with a lot to prove. Thankfully director Pete Travis manages to bury the past by giving us a film with tons of swagger, carnage, and confidence. A ‘veteran cop takes a rookie under his wing’ yarn with a dash of mutant powers thrown in for good measure, Dredd (gonna drop the “3D” from hereon out) is pure action/ comic book fun. It’s set in a future where the U.S. has become Mega-City, a sprawling landscape riddled with chaos under the watchful eye of ‘Judges’: men and women serving as judge, jury and executioner. When two such peacekeepers arrive at a multiple homicide crime scene – a massive 200 story skyscraper teeming with residents – we have our central conflict. And so seasoned vet Judge Dredd and rookie Anderson – still trying to earn her title as Judge – arrive to deliver justice, and quickly things escalate as they realize the building is run by ruthless drug lord and gang leader Ma-Ma, who locks down the building and commands the inhabitants to destroy the out-manned & outgunned Judges. But before you can scream The Raid: Redemption (2011) let me say that while both films are indeed similar, to say one ripped off the other is silly. The Raid is a showpiece of insane stunt-work while Dredd is all snarly, mean ‘tude with well-staged brutal action (complete with flying limbs). There’s some exceptional casting too, the gals doing their best to steal the show from Karl Urban‘s Dredd. Olivia Thirlby proves she can handle any genre – whether as a high school student in love with older men in Juno, your perfect first crush in The Wackness, or here, as a budding bad ass with powers, completely believable and an instant sci-fi/ comic-con cosplay heroine. And Lena Headey as Ma-Ma can add another amazing baddie to her resume. Fans of Game Of Thrones will squeal as she eats up screen-time (no pun intended) with her crooked appearance – her bad teeth, shifty eyes, and snaked-tongued scar making her an instantly classic new-school villain. And back to Karl Urban – he takes full command as Judge Dredd, his grizzle full-blown by film’s end. Similar to Tom Hardy‘s portrayal as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Dredd shows very little of his face yet carries the film to the end, with a delivery that earns him an immediate ‘graduated from the school of one-liners’ Ph.D – with honors for the gravitas he creates with such a grumbly-mumbly character. Let me also say that Dredd never goes soft, pacing-wise – we’re constantly thrown from fight to fight without ever losing our sense of location or urgency. The action – while never ground-breaking – fits the film and its universe perfectly – think the 3rd act of 2008′s Punisher: War Zone (an underrated gem) but stretched out for an entire film – or your favorite old-school Dimension Films jam (that one with all the gnarly kills that you watched a million times) – or all the raw, bat-shit crazy parts of the last Rambo (2008) film rolled into one. That’s Dredd – a more than adequate addition to the comic book cinema universe, and a movie I heartily recommend.
Before there was Harry Knowles, before thousands of bloggers were clogging the web with opinions, there was Rick Trembles with his unique take on film review. I first came across his art more than 15 [...]