Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
True enough, I saw Sly Stallone's 'Judge Dredd' back in '95… haven't seen it since and as such my memories of that movie are murky… Diane Lane seems to stand out for some reason or another… but I don't remember despising that movie as a lot of folks out there did, for as it was reported, Dredd '95 was completely unfaithful to the source comic that I've never read, but it was still run-of-the mill.  True enough, I've saw 'Dredd' the other day which seems to be gathering more love from those who read the comic that I've still never read and I gotta say that 'Dredd' 2012 is about as far removed from 'run-of-the-mill' as it gets.  Outstanding.
It's the future, dystopian society, radiation and stuff, society is crumbling upon itself… yada yada yada.  There's not an awful lot of law and order in these Mega Cities housing some 800 million people but the justice that is administered ain't no freaking joke.  This justice is handled by The Judges, and these Judges are the judge, jury and executioners when need be. 

Say hello to Dredd (Karl Urban) who seems to be the best… or the worst depending on your point of view, of what these judges have to offer.  On this particular day Dredd has been saddled with young rookie Ms. Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) to take on an assignment and offer his assessment.  While the boss-lady informed Dredd that Anderson fell short on most of her Judge Admission tests, she does have a few other things which makes her desirable, such as her amazing psychic abilities.  In fact she was running a quick scan on Judge Dredd until the boss -lady ordered her to cease and desist because nobody, and I mean nobody wants to know what' s going in Dredd's head.  Nobody.
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The assessment seems simple enough.  Go into a megablock, bust up a drug party and investigate a triple homicide.  This particular bust was fortuitous for Dredd and Anderson because it yielded the capture of the gangster Kay (Wood Harris) who not only is the perp who committed this triple homicide, but is also a top captain of the notorious drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey).  The theory is that once Key gets back to the Hall of Justice and goes under the horrific process known as 'interrogation', he will tell all about Ma-Ma, her drug empire, and in particular her new creation, the Slo-Mo drug.  Ma-Ma can't have that.  Ma-Ma locks the MegaBlock down, with Dredd and Anderson inside with the mandate being that these judges be killed on sight by anybody who happens to run across them.

Just so you know that whole setup there took about twenty minutes.  The next seventy five minutes is just bloodletting.  And the coming of age of a young woman who will learn the fine art of shooting people in the face.  Roll the freaking credits.

'Dredd' is not a complex movie.  It's not particularly clever or overly intelligent, the story being written that was credited one Alex Garland isn't imbued with a plethora of character development and it certainly isn't difficult to follow.  No sir, 'Dredd' is lean, mean, dirty and nasty.  Now it is possible that somewhere buried beneath the violence, all that stuff I mentioned that's not present in this movie actually is there, but if it is I completely missed it and I'm all the better for it.

Since 'Dredd' doesn't clutter us with backstory… or really frontstory to be honest with you… we are free to just sit back and enjoy the present story.  That being observing Dredd and his kid assistant blast their way out their terrible situation they find themselves trapped in.  A situation that will be framed with some of the most violent scenes I've ever seen, filmed in excruciating slow motion so that you can see every tendril of skin shred apart as the bullets ripped through their faces.  It was awesome. 

Now this isn't to say that 'Dredd' is devoid of a narrative, because an action movie consisting of nothing but action would inevitably lead to complete boredom, it's just that the narrative is very lean.  Olivia Thrilby is a fine young actress with a very expressive face and uses this to its full effect.  We are given enough information about her character to care about her well being, and mainly through her expressions we are able to grow with her as she grows into her job.  You see…  I caught all of that.  Since we are Lena Headey apologist here at the FCU, there's not a lot she can do wrong in our eyes, and her character of Ma-Ma fit the lean style of the script in that she's just a bad person doing bad things.  She's not trying to rule the world, just make money selling drugs is all, and Ms. Headey played the character for all it was worth.  We were just upset that they cut her face all up.  Then of course there's Dredd himself as played by the soon to be great Karl Urban who I think gives fans the Dredd they wanted to see.  While Dredd himself is completely humorless, it's hard to deny that there was humor in the efficient matter that he went about his business. 

If I had a problem with 'Dredd' it would be the drug Slo-Mo.  I mean… other than the fact it was illegal, it didn't look all that bad.  In fact, it looked kind of cool.  And as far as I can tell it didn't have any detrimental effects.  Come on Hall of Justice, can a bro get his swerve on some slo-mo?

Similar to the way I thought about 'The Punisher' few years back, and apparently only me, I feel the same way about this version of 'Dredd', only this was better.  If only more of us had seen it in theaters so we could get more of these movies, but I fear this is the last of Karl Urban and Dredd we might see.  I sure as hell hope I'm wrong about this.
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