The world is in turmoil and the only thing standing between society and total chaos are the judges; law enforcers who act as judge, jury and executioner, dispensing on-the-spot justice from the barrel of a gun. Judge Dredd is Mitt Romney’s wet dream. Make no mistake about it, this is Judge Dredd, the Judge Dredd. Karl Urban’s Dredd would make Stallone’s pale imposter piss his pants with nothing more than a disgusted sneer and a clenching of his fist. And could you blame him? This incarnation of Dredd is a veritable virtuoso of violence.
Urban weaves a savage tapestry of bloodshed right across this film from start to finish – but this isn’t the over-the-top stylised violence of the Quentin Tarantino school nor the bland, empty explosions of your average action blockbuster, this is something else entirely. Innovative and brutal yet strangely beautiful, it’s almost an art form. This is also much more than just an action epic and an orgy of violence. It has a brilliant script peppered with great lines and a straightforward plot that serves as the perfect vehicle for both introducing the Dredd character to newcomers and undoing the damage done by Stallone’s abomination.
The film explodes onto the screen with a high speed chase and the high velocity dispensation of some justice. It’s just an ordinary day for Dredd. He’s called in by his boss to take a new rookie under his wing for the day and assess their abilities.
“See what they can do, throw them in the deep end,” his boss says with a wry smile.
“It’s all the deep end,” he growls back.
Much like Dredd himself, who doesn’t like wasting time with juries, judiciaries and due process, the film cuts to the chase.
There is no let-up in the action. The story moves along at breakneck speed. You’ll be waiting for a lull as they set up the next scene but it never comes. Dredd starts off in top gear and things only escalate from there. Everything about this is just as you would want it. The action, the visuals, the script, the plot, it all works perfectly. In fact the only thing that lets it down is the fact that you can only see it in 3D. True, they have tried to do something different with that ever irritating third dimension here, it’s not just an added extra tacked on in post-production to justify charging you an extra three quid into the cinema. It’s worked into the story as a way of helping to visualise for the audience the effects of a new drug on the market and for those scenes I must admit it works brilliantly, but for the other 95 per cent of the film it is annoying and unnecessary.
That aside, it’s hard to fault a film that’s this much fun.
The judgements are in. Stallone; death. Dredd; five stars.
Words: Martin Hearty