Written by / 4/08/2013 / 2 Comments / , , , , , ,

DREDD

year: 2012 cast: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Heady rating: ***
An ultra-violent take on the Judge Dredd comic books, set in a futuristic world where criminals have turned American cities into demilitarized zones, probably wanted to separate itself from the maligned 1990’s Sylvester Stallone flick. Although Karl Urban, in Dredd’s metallic uniform, does somewhat resemble – at least from the nose down – the action icon as he speaks with a similar guttural growl, leaving most of the dialog to his sidekick, who thankfully isn’t Rob Schneider: Enter Olivia Thirlby’s Cassandra Anderson, brand new to the force of elite judges who don’t sit behind a desk with a gavel, passively passing judgment after the cops have done their work. These roving crime-fighters are the police, the jury and more often than not, the executioner while Cassandra, a doe-eyed rookie partnered with Dredd to investigate a triple homicide within an ominous high rise, has more than one Ace: she’s also a “mutant” psychic able to find truth with a touch of the hand.

While THE AVENGERS successfully garnered a contained “We got a problem” storyline, the DREDD protagonists are caught knee-deep inside the problem: Once both judges arrest a drug dealer whose testimony could bust the sinister gang leader Ma-Ma (Lena Headey)… a cold, calculating vixen pushing a drug called “Slow Mo”… giant doors lock everyone within the mazy building interior. Thus 95% of the film has our heroes trying to get out with the perpetrator and more importantly, their lives.

The soundtrack, reminiscent of John Carpenter’s early compositions, is a dark metronomic heartbeat keeping the action flowing from one shootout to the next. Unfortunately Dredd, although one tough cookie and a fun guy to root for, isn’t that much different from his aggressive gun-wielding adversaries, especially when a group of bad judges arrive during the 11th hour. Perhaps his sidekick, who eventually realizes her heart might not be in this brutal occupation, has something to do with his ability to remain alive – since we only get one introductory scene without her assistance, Dredd's a difficult title character to entirely distinguish on his own merit. And while Cassandra’s visible flashes into other people’s thoughts often distract from the steely mainline, she’s an effective co-lead who’s much more than eye candy, helping the somewhat basic story, feeling like a singular episode of a JUDGE DREDD cable series, be the high-octane motion picture it vehemently strives for.
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2 comments:

  1. I loved this Dredd. I couldn't stand Stallone's. Karl Urban is just fine as Dredd. Most importanty, he never takes off his helmet. Lena Heady who I fell in lust with in 300 once again seems to pop up everywhere from the Chronicles of Sarah Connor to The Game of Thrones to here. Love her! And Olivia Thirlby is great. I love the fact that she doesn't wear her helmet and Dredd has it on at all times. As a fan of the original Dredd comics, this movie surprised me in just how much I dug it.

    Great review.

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  2. So I must admit I was a fan of the later seasons of Xena Warrior Princess. Going back and watching the episode IDES OF MARCH where Caesar gets his comeuppance and Xena and Gabriel get crucified I realized that Caesar is played by Karl Urban! (which of course he played in HERCULES as well). Anyway I just watched DREDD again. I really dig this movie. Just a fun movie to watch.

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