Ladies and gentlemen, the most manly movie of the last 25 years; DREDD 3D! I have nothing but positive things to say about this film as both a fan of the source material and a fan of 80’s action films. It’s lean, it’s gritty, it has deadpan humor, and it’s got stuff getting blowed up. This movie is so manly it made me want to wrestle a bear, bench press 2 hot chicks and drink motor oil. The plot is simple: 2 cops, 1 day in the life.
I love this film for 2 different reasons: 1) As a fan of the source material, this was a perfect adaptation of the character of Judge Dredd. This was no nonsense, pure adrenaline, fascist, mega city 1. Mega City 1 looked fantastic. It was bleak, disgusting, depressing, and I really felt a sense of hopelessness among the people. People were acting out of desperation and not because everyone in Mega City 1 is a violent drug addict or a criminal. Now for the real draw of the film, Judge Dredd himself. This is easily the greatest performance from a jaw line that I have ever seen. Karl Urban as Dredd may be the best performance of a comic book character, as far as page to screen goes. He nailed Dredd, like Dredd nails perps. He was cold, he was a fascist, his humor was spot on and deadpan, and the helmet stayed on. I especially liked in the opening scene when he was suiting up and his face was obscured in shadows to show that Dredd is human, but the anonymous face of the law. Dredd will take down law breakers by any means necessary. But Dredd isn’t without emotion, and the humanity is carried by the beautiful Judge Anderson, played by Olivia Thirlby (Juno). She is the other side of the coin for the Judges. She shows that crime isn’t so black and white and has to make hard decisions, whereas Dredd will just Judge criminals as he sees them, as is his job. Dredd showed no emotional or sexual interest in Anderson, as it damn well should be (I’m looking at you Danny Cannon), not that the film was without sexual content. The villain, Madison Madrigal, played by Cercei Lannister was a bit thin, and it would have been nice to see a classic Dredd villain, but the film was about the introduction to the Dredd character and a day in the life of both the Judges and Mega City 1, so it was appropriate for the sake of the story. You don’t want to be overwhelmed with introducing too many characters when a franchise has yet to establish its main characters. 2)The sheer brutality of the film. Not since the days of Paul Verhoeven and John McTiernan have we seen action films of this caliber and violence. It was a decent story, with characters that were likable and also raised questions about the judicial system, while doing it 200 mph and blowing up whatever they could. Right off the bat the audience gets pumped from the pounding score from Paul Leonard Morgan. In the hands of Paul W.S. Anderson, this might have been plagued with modern rock bands and faux metal bands from mtv2, and it would have made the film feel cheesy in its action scenes, but the pulsating music helps move the film along with ease and the audience is never left feeling bored. I would equate the action in this film to the likes of Robocop or Total Recall, in its intensity. Not a single punch was pulled, nor a care was given, it was in your face, literally. This was a rare time where you would want to shell out the extra 5 bucks for 3d. The filmmakers really wanted to show the violent world that is Judge Dredd, and this definitely hurt the box office returns, but it was a gamble that Lionsgate took, and as a film goer, I applaud them. Action movies are seldom R rated anymore, instead they are big budget blockbusters featuring super heroes or are adaptations of books. To top it off, if was made on a modest budget, just to show us that quality action films can be made for under $150 million. The deaths weren’t your typical “get shot and fall down”: people were getting decimated, and sometimes in slow motion. The plot is that Dredd takes the rookie Judge Anderson on her first day to evaluate her, and that leads the 2 of them to a project where the drug “Slo-Mo” is being manufactured (so there was a clever utilization of slow motion). The slow motion was properly used and was an excuse to make some of the deaths more visceral, of which included a slow motion gunshot through a man’s jaw.
Unfortunately, the box office returns for Dredd were very poor, so it seems unlikely now that we may get another one, which is really heartbreaking, considering that there were 5 Twilight movies and 5 Transformers movies (with a spinoff on the way). One reason for this may be attributed to the Indonesian film The Raid, which was also kick booty, but Dredd was actually filmed around the same time as The Raid, so if that is your reason for not seeing this film, you are a crazy person. Dredd just took a while to be picked up by a distributor. If anything, both films ripped off Die Hard. The screenwriter, Alex Garland had planned out a trilogy featuring Satanus, a talking T Rex, and the Dark Judges, who are sick like AIDS, which, if this movie says anything about the future of the franchise, would be both tastefully done and incredibly satisfying. Hopefully some of you reading this will go out and see this film. It’s definitely out of theaters right now, but it’s on home video, so I urge you to rent it, buy it or throw any kind of money you can at this film because it is in my top 5 films I’ve seen in 2018. You read that last sentence right. It is absolutely the best action film since Total Recall, and, though I love John Wick, it is the undisputed champion (my eyes, duh) in the world of straight action. 4 stars, 5 stars, 10 out of 10, thumbs up. Perfect film. Do yourself a favor and see this film, otherwise you are just hurting yourself.