Dredd

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The future United States is an irradiated wasteland known as the Cursed Earth. On the east coast lies Mega-City One, a violent metropolis with 800 million residents and 17,000 crimes reported daily. There, an addictive new drug called “Slo-Mo” has been introduced, which slows the user’s perception of time to 1% of normal. The only force for order are the Judges, who act as judge, jury and executioner. Judge Dredd is tasked by the Chief Judge with evaluating new recruit Cassandra Anderson, a powerful psychic who failed the aptitude tests to be a Judge.

In Peach Trees, a 200-storey slum tower block, drug lord Madeline Madrigal, also known as “Ma-Ma”, executes three rogue drug dealers by having them skinned, infused with Slo-Mo and thrown down the atrium from the top floor. Dredd and Anderson are sent in to investigate and learn of a drug den, which they raid. They arrest a thug named Kay, whom Anderson’s mind probe reveals to be the one who carried out the drug dealers’ execution. Dredd decides to take him in for questioning. In response, Ma-Ma’s forces seize the tower’s security control room and seal the building, using its blast shields under the pretence of a security test, preventing the Judges from leaving or summoning help.

Ma-Ma orders Dredd and Anderson killed, and the Judges fight their way through dozens of armed thugs. Arriving at the 76th floor, the Judges are assaulted by Ma-Ma and her men with Vulcan cannons that rip through the walls, killing numerous residents. The Judges breach an outer wall and are able to call for backup. Meanwhile, Ma-Ma sends her henchman Caleb to confirm the Judges’ deaths, but when they meet, Dredd throws Caleb off the tower in full view of Ma-Ma.

Dredd suspects Ma-Ma is desperate to keep Kay quiet and beats him for information. Anderson intervenes and uses her psychic abilities to read Kay’s mind, learning that Peach Trees is the centre of Slo-Mo production and distribution. Anderson suggests they hide while awaiting assistance but Dredd insists they move up the tower and pursue Ma-Ma. Judges Volt and Guthrie respond to Dredd’s call, but Ma-Ma’s computer expert denies them entry by persuading them the call is part of the security drill. A pair of armed teens confront Dredd and Anderson, allowing Kay to disarm and overtake Anderson. Kay then escapes with her as hostage, and brings her to Ma-Ma’s base on the top floor.

While Dredd works his way towards Ma-Ma, she calls in the corrupt Judges Lex, Kaplan, Chan and Alvarez. The four relieve Volt and Guthrie from duty and are allowed into the building. Dredd encounters Chan and is suspicious that he does not ask about Anderson’s status. Seeing his cover blown, Chan attacks Dredd, who kills him. Meanwhile, Kay tries to execute Anderson with her own weapon, but the pistol’s DNA scanner does not recognize him and blows his arm off. Anderson escapes and later encounters Kaplan, whom she promptly kills after reading her mind. Elsewhere, Dredd kills Alvarez but runs out of ammunition, and is shot by Lex in the abdomen. Lex moves in to execute Dredd, but Dredd stalls him long enough for Anderson to arrive and kill Lex.

Anderson and Dredd obtain the code to Ma-Ma’s apartment from her computer expert and confront her. Ma-Ma tells Dredd that in the case of her death, a device on her wrist will detonate explosives on the top floors, destroying the building. Dredd reasons that the detonator’s signal will not reach the explosives from the ground floor, so he forces Ma-Ma to inhale Slo-Mo and throws her down the atrium to her death.

In the aftermath, Anderson accepts that she has failed her evaluation by getting disarmed, and leaves. The Chief Judge asks Dredd about Anderson’s performance; he responds that she has passed.

REVIEW:

Let me preface this review by clearing up that Dredd is not a remake, but a different set of stories combined to create new, more accurate interpretation of the character from the comics, as opposed to some Hollywood studio’s version. The question now is, did it accomplish what it set out to do, or end up further tarnishing the legacy of Judge Dredd?

What is this about?

In the future, catastrophic wars have transformed Earth into a barren wasteland with the remaining population crowded into megacities, where all-powerful cops — including the ultraviolent Judge Dredd — are on the hunt for drug-dealing terrorists.

What did I like?

Faceless. Finally, an actor realized that being true to the character is more important than seeing their face. Karl Urban’s face is not seen at all in this picture, and that’s the way is should be, as Judge Dredd never takes his helmet off, contrary to what Sylvester Stallone would have you believe by watching Judge Dredd. On the other side, his trainee left her helmet at headquarters, which is strange since I seem to recall Stallone’s partner never taking her helmet off, but I could be wrong, it has been awhile. By any means, these judges are supposed to be faceless judging machines, of sorts. Yes, they are human, but the humanity is barely there. Urban’s decision to not take off the helmet shows a true commitment to the character that no other actor who has brough a comic book character wearing a mask to life has done, since they all insist on having their face shown.

Violent. How long has it been since we had a film that just said the hell with it and actually showed violent acts, excluding horror? This film stops just short of going back to the 80s with the violence. Sure, I would have loved more, but these days people are so scared of how such things can affect them, that we aren’t likely to get it. Still, I relished in the fact that this flick went for it, with awesome results.

Day in the life. Rather than having some convoluted plot that ends in final showdown between good and evil, which we do have, the film decides to go with a more relatable “day in the life” angle. For me, this was a breath of fresh air, as we’ve seen so many flicks that so the same kind of thing, but the last time we had a “day in the life” story, that I can recall was Training Day. Obviously, this has different results, but that little bit of simplicity in the plot is refreshing once in a while, especially when a routine patrol ends up in a drug bust with a very powerful and sadistic criminal.

What didn’t I like?

Slo-mo. As much as I love The Matrix, I think it introduced the world to a film technique that needs to go on a moratorium. I’m talking about the slow motion effect that has been used to death. In this film, it does have its advantages, initially, as they use it to illustrate to effects of the slo-mo drug, but after a while it just gets old and annoying. Surely, someone out there has something new that can replace this…hopefully sooner, rather than later.

Security. One squirrely little guy controls the security for the an entire Mega-city? How is that possible? On top of that, one word from him, and the place goes on lockdown and reinforcement judges are sent away thinking that it is just a system test. Something sounds fishy about that. One would think there would be a better system in place for such things, like a pass code that has to be entered, for instance.

Ma-Ma. A couple of critics were praising Lena Headey’s performance, but that won’t happen here. She has always been a lifeless actress in my eyes. It works when playing Sarah Connor in The Terminator Chronicles, but not so much here. I felt she could’ve done so much more with the character. In a film where everyone else is playing it serious and straight, an over-the-top performance from the main antagonist would have been a nice change of pace, in my view.

Dredd got great reviews when it was released, but because of the negative view of Stallone’s version, many people stayed away, plus it was released in early September, when people are spending their money on back-to-school stuffs. This is a film that was highly enjoyable, far superior to its predecessor and, as far as I know, faithful to its source material. All the things a comic book movie should be! I highly recommend this to everyone, but be warned, this is not a kid’s flick!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

3 Responses to “Dredd”

  1. Mystery Man Says:

    Reblogged this on Mr Movie Fiend's Movie Blog.

  2. […] fixed. For instance, Spider-Man keeps his mask on in all but 2 scenes. Other than Karl Urban in Dredd, no superhero seems to do this because they think we just have to see their face. Even in the Iron […]

  3. […] it off, we just go inside the suit with him. On the flip side, there are actors like Karl Urban in Dredd want to stay true to the character and don’t take the mask off. I feel as if Reynolds would […]

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