DREDD is of course based on the 70’s British JUDGE DREDD comic created by writer John Wagner, artist Carlos Ezquerra and editor Pat Mills. In 1995, a first film adaptation was gunned out starring SYLVESTER STALLONE. I enjoyed it as fun cheese (even though Rob Schneider pissed on the whole thing as the sad sack comic relief), but from what I hear, it had little to do with its source material. Now DREDD 2012 is here, a new adapation of the comic, ready to make the wrong things right. Did it succeed?
In my world? Oh yeah! If you look in the dictionary under “movies that I get off to the most” there would be a picture of a stone faced Dredd with flames reflecting in his visor. Yup this was my kind of wam-bam! Now I know they had 45 Million to do it, that’s a lot of money but in Hollywood Blockbuster land, it’s not that much, specially for this kind of picture. I actually think the lack of coin was a good thing, as it forced them to keep shit simple, and sometimes simple is best. DREDD opened up with a narration (by Urban’s Dredd) stetting up the stage, it then established the character of Dredd, tagged him to a rookie broad and after that, all hell broke loose. No origin story, no padding, no romantic subplot, a straightforward story line of kill or be killed and good versus evil driven forward by action, gore and gun-play. That’s what I’m talking about! And yes, action fiends will get their fill here. Not only was DREDD filled to the brim with groovy gun fights and mucho kabooms, it also went for the throat with its brutality quota, embracing its R rating like a perv hugs a stripper pole. Arm blown off, bullets in the face, blood splatters, the works! And lots of it was in glorious slow motion at that!
That was actually a stroke of genius on a story level. Ya see the baddies here like to take a drug call “Slo-Mo”. Once on it, the passing of time crawls to a near halt (even when dying – do the math). So by result that gave director Peter Travis carte blanche to orchestrate grisly yet beautifully trippy scenes of mayhem (the 3D shined during those bits, the rest of the time, I didn’t notice it much). Nothing like broken teeth surrounded by blood splashes flying out the screen in uber slow motion to carve a smile on my neck. The gritty production and costume designs were tops too. From the decrepit urban city landscapes, to the Judge’s efficient combat gear (no Eagle shoulder pad here), to the fly weaponry (adored that multi-option Judge gun), we got hints of “futuristic” but at the same time it all looked mucho grounded in reality. Which brings me to the actors. Olivia Thirlby was ideal as Dredd’s tag-along Anderson (the character is lifted off the comic) and she brought humanity to the film. Let’s face it, she was pretty much the only character that grew throughout and that had an arc. Lena Headey gave an unnerving show as the villain. The choices she made as an actress went against the grain resulting in a unique display. There was just something about her that was so “off” that she kinda scared me. Yup reminded me of a few exes.
Last but certainly not least, Karl Urban owned it as the tank on two legs known as Dredd. Urban kept the helmet on the whole time (like in the comics), managed to express varied states of being with his eyes covered by a visor (no small feat) and had a Dirty Harry like drawl that was music to my ears. I freaking clapped when he said: “Hey Ma-Ma, it’s judgement time”. Freaking genius! Tag to that an effortless pace, some biting bleak humor, countless kinetic shots by director Travis and a slick industrial score by Paul Leonard-Morgan, and you get a lean, mean judging machine! Any peeves? Nothing critical. One hand to hand fight was a tad hard to decipher and ended too soon. In fact, the flick lacked in the fisticuffs department; slap more of that love in the sequel! I also though some of the action scenarios weren’t milked for all they were worth (I was expecting greatness after that stun grenade went off, didn’t happen). Finally I yearned for even more bloodshed, but that’s because I’m a sicko that can’t get enough of hyper violence (yes, Paul Verhoeven is one of my fav directors). Other than that. Nothing. For the kind of film it’s supposed to be; DREDD pretty much aced all it had to ace. One to see again, one to buy on disk when out. Review is over. Sentence is death.