Updated: Aug 11
Dredd is an action thriller that delivers a faithful adaptation of the comics it is based off of. Dredd follows the crimes that happen in a post-apocalyptic city known as Mega City 1, where the law is passed by enforcers known as Judges. These Judges are Judge, Jury, and Executioner in this reality since any democratic legal system has long failed.
Dredd follows the titular Judge Dredd (played perfectly by Karl Urban) on a case with a newly-cemented rookie, Anderson. The two Judges are called to a drug bust of a narcotic known as Slow-Mo at an apartment block. However, drug Queenpin, Mama (played by Lena Headley) locks down the block because Judges are taking one of her lackeys in for interrogation. This sparks an all out war of survival between the two Judges and Mama where each side uses sheer brutality in order to win.
What this movie does spectacularly well is its visual department, especially when it comes to their slow motion scenes. With these scenes, the slowed down action has lens flares to brighten the action and act as if it were a moment of fantasy, giving each blow extra weight behind it. One scene that stands out in particular is the drug bust scene with Dredd and Anderson. Every action performed by both the judges and background characters is just mesmerizing; each gunshot, explosion, and blow feel like being hit by a freight train.
This movie has an amazing script with a simple story and layered characters, not to mention balls-to-the-walls action and carnage throughout its runtime. You would think a film like this would have legions of people waiting in line to watch it, only it didn’t. This might be due to it being a remake of an unfortunately cheesy adaptation of the comic known as Judge Dredd with Sylvester Stallone back in 1995; this didn’t pan out as many have criticized Judge Dredd for said cheesiness and lack of Stallone wearing the character’s signature helmet. Another reason this might not have garnered attention immediately was the fact that there were no recognizable big names to the project, the film had established names in the production, but actors, directors, and writers many people were unfamiliar with, such as Lena Headley who was unrecognizable with the facial scar and janky teeth and Karl Urban who wore a helmet for the entire runtime. This film has established yet underrated names behind the scenes as well like screenwriter Alex Garland, this guy would later go on to redefine the sci fi genre with thoughtful mind bending films like Ex Machina (2015) and Annihilation (2018).
Dredd (2012) is a film where a character is finally done proper justice with a gritty adaptation. This is a brooding character similar to that of Batman and takes himself seriously, the film and world around him needs to reflect that nature, which the 2012 film adaptation does exceedingly well. While this film has gained a cult following over the years, it should’ve been recognized by everyone immediately for its gritty atmosphere, heart stopping action, and complex characters. It was dealt a bad hand of being in the shadow of an inferior adaptation.