In the '90s, the futuristic lawman was given the big screen treatment. Betrayed by the society that gave him the power he wielded, Sylvester Stallone's Judge Dredd
struggles with the new life that is thrust upon him in punishment. But it was not a loyal adaptation of the comic or a very good movie. This year fans will receive some redemption with the release of the hard-hitting Dredd 3D
Judge. Jury. Executioner. In a future plagued by extreme violence, society has streamlined the judicial process, giving police absolute authority. Dredd (Karl Urban) is the most respected and feared enforcer of the rules. When he discovers a gang dealing the mind-altering drug SLO-MO is held up in an apartment complex, he takes a trainee (Olivia Thirlby) along to shut them down.
In the simplest terms, this is the American version of The Raid. Grounded in a tall apartment populated by criminals, Dredd makes his way through, leaving a trail of dead or seriously injured bad guys. But the exceptional martial arts sequences that made the Asian picture a resounding success is replaced by big explosions and 3D extravagance. Weapons fly through the screen, gatling guns spray streams of ammunition that break down walls and body parts are desecrated in slow motion as bullets rip through the flesh.
Urban's Dredd is a more accurate embodiment of the comic book character with little dialogue and deliberate actions. Never seen without his helmet, the actor is forced to perform without using one of his key assets: his eyes. Urban makes the best of his remaining features, deepening his voice (not quite to a Batman-depth) and portraying a by-any-means-necessary cop empowered by his sense of right. Though his serious demeanor still allows for a little humour.
The film opens with a monologue by the star judge that sets the scene, describing a dystopian city - the last remaining metropolis in a country destroyed by various natural and manmade disasters. The panoramic view is suddenly cut short by a high-speed car chase fuelled and visually slowed by SLO-MO. This pattern repeats through the rest of the film: a rollercoaster of ups and downs.
The limited plot and restricted location requires a little more substance to be a really good film, but it's an interesting portrayal of power and destruction (that didn't require the 3D treatment).
Director: Pete Travis
Starring: Karl Urban
, Olivia Thirlby
and Lena Headey