At a time when emotionally fragile heroes are fashionable, where they have unrequited love, where each carries some heavy baggage from their past so an audience can empathise with them, we have Dredd.
Dredd is none of these things. He's a tightly wound coil of anger and purpose wrapped in the trappings of totalitarian law enforcement from a dystopian city that is simmering under crime and filth. In a city so sprawling, and with a population that seems intent on devouring itself if left unchecked, the Judges can only respond to a fraction of crime, and no time is spent on unnecessary bureaucracy. Due process is a barely remembered dream.
Broken the law? Sentence them. Resisting? Shoot them. Need answers? Beat them to a pulp or take them in for extended interrogation, and all without a glimmer of sympathy from behind that opaque visor. He's a libertarian's worst nightmare who will break you if the Law requires it.
Urban does a tremendous job without ever removing the iconic helmet that is so loved by the fans of the 'comic' character. He is completely uncompromising. No action-film trope one-liners here. The nearest he offers are caustic comments of derision when people stray from his personal standards, usually before breaking bones or blasting large colourful chunks off perpetrators.
Clearly in need of an emotionally accessible character for the audience to identify with, we have rookie Judge Anderson, a psychic mutant who is put through the ringer by Dredd on her 'make-or-break' assessment. Thirlby also does a great job here and certainly has the most growth over the course of the film. Beneath the cold appraising glare of Dredd, she evolves under that pressure in a very satisfying way. This is a role that Dredd has played several times in the comic, and is widely known as having the strictest standards for what passes for a Judge, but also for producing some of the city's finest.
Here is a source of genius for some, a source of disappointment for others. The film does not aim high in terms of blockbuster material, but instead elects to tell a very focused, character driven story - a day in the life of a Judge tale that will have you thankful you don't have to walk in their shoes.
What follows is a harsh look into a world where, frankly, you would not want to live. If there is a hell on earth, then Mega City 1 is most certainly it. A futuristic version of New York crossed with Mogadishu with all the negative connotations those connections infer, and remarkably few of the positives.
Unemployment is a rampant plague that feeds the city's crime. The sky is littered with Justice Department surveillance drones and infractions for crime, if you're unlucky enough to be spotted, are harshly dealt with.
Many film-makers would have flinched at making such a movie incorporating such clear violence and obvious fascism, and tried to soften the blow with lashings of humour, but no such intellectual dishonesty here. The result is an extremely violent, often times bleak adaptation of a comic character that was always more violent than its peers to begin with.
Deservedly adult in rating, Dredd offers a punishing ride, equally violent, beautiful and horrible, and often at the same time.
For the uninitiated; this is the perfect entry film and offers a fantastic time for fans of violent crime thrillers.
For long-time fans; Dredd has finally arrived on screen.
Action / Sci-Fi
Action / Sci-Fi
The future America is an irradiated waste land. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies Mega City One - a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the urban cops called "Judges" who possess the combined powers of judge, jury and instant executioner. Known and feared throughout the city, Dredd is the ultimate Judge, challenged with ridding the city of its latest scourge - a dangerous drug epidemic that has users of "Slo-Mo" experiencing reality at a fraction of its normal speed. During a routine day on the job, Dredd is assigned to train and evaluate Cassandra Anderson, a rookie with powerful psychic abilities thanks to a genetic mutation. A heinous crime calls them to a neighborhood where fellow Judges rarely dare to venture - a 200 storey vertical slum controlled by prostitute turned drug lord Ma-Ma and her ruthless clan. When they capture one of the clan's inner circle, Ma-Ma overtakes the compound's control center and wages a dirty, vicious war against the Judges that proves she will stop at nothing to protect her empire. With the body count climbing and no way out, Dredd and Anderson must confront the odds and engage in the relentless battle for their survival.
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December 25, 2012 at 9:55 pm