Set in the future, Dredd presents a bleak outcome for humanity. Crime is rampant and law enforcement officers called Judges are given the power to dictate sentences swiftly in the scene of the crime. The lead character, Dredd (Karl Urban), is an emotionless, but effective judge. "THE Judge Dredd", as he is called by one of his peers in the film. He is assigned the supervision and assessment of a rookie, Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), who is sought by the Hall of Justice, mostly for her psychic abilities. Their first assignment together has to do with a triple murder inside a 200-story slum tower called Peach Trees, which is controlled by Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), a ruthless drug lord. Soon, Dredd and Anderson find themselves trapped inside the building and fighting for their lives.
I don't even remember if I saw the 1995 version starring Sylvester Stallone, but I gave this remake a watch this week. For the most part, the film is an entertaining action film, full of violence. IMO, its biggest flaw is its similarity to the Indonesian film The Raid: Redemption. Dredd follows the premise of law enforcement officers trapped in a highrise building controlled by a druglord down to a T, which isn't bad in and of itself. But having seen one deflated the effect that the other might have had. Plus, I think that limiting the scope of the film to an enclosed location hindered the possibilities.
The opening act does a good job of establishing the setting, the post-apocalyptic world full of crime and poverty, and its main character. But once the metal doors at Peach Trees close in on the Judges, the film's possibilities are as trapped as the characters. I think it would've been interesting to see more of the world they were living, but instead, the plot is simplified to a shoot-em up with hordes of nameless thugs running at our heroes. I felt that the source material had possibilities for a better and deeper film. There was a moment near the end where I was actually surprised, and thought that the film would go somewhere, but a futuristic medical kit took that away as well.
That isn't to say that the film wasn't good. I thought it was still entertaining, but not much else. I liked some of the directorial choices of Pete Travis (this is the first film of his that I see). Some of the establishing aerial shots were great, and his use of slow motion to illustrate the effects of the "Slo-Mo" drug were inventive. As far as performances go, Karl Urban does what the script asks of him and he delivers, with an emotionless, stoic performance, but there's nothing much one can say about that. Thirlby and Headey were both solid as the rookie Anderson and the druglord Ma-Ma.
Overall, the film is pretty formulaic, but still fun to watch, so my sentence is a B.
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