John Hanlon Reviews

Film Reviews

Dredd 3D

Genre: Science Fiction, Action and Adventure

Director: Pete Travis

Cast: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Wood Harris, Langley Kirkwood, Junior Singo, Luke Tyler

MPAA-Rating: R

Release Date: September 21st 2012

Yes, ampoule folks. He keeps his helmet on in this one.

That’s the biggest news to come out of Dredd 3D, order which arrives in theaters seventeen years after Sylvester Stallone’s Judge Dredd  floundered at the box office. In the new adaptation of the comic, Karl Urban stars as the eponymous character in a simple story that will likely remind viewers of the superior The Raid: Redemption, which hit theaters earlier this year.

Alex Garland, who previously wrote Sunshine (2007) and Never Let Me Go (2010), wrote the screenplay for the film that focuses on the well-liked character. The story focuses on Dredd, a futuristic police officer who is given the responsibility of being a judge, jury and executioner for the criminals he encounters. In this world, this Judge- along with many others- is wanted by many of the thugs who roam the street working illegally to get ahead.

But in a city where crime is high and violence is rampant, some of the judges too easily fall prey to replacing their ethical values with a harsh cynicism that allows them to believe that working with the criminals is better than fighting against them. Not Dredd. Dredd fights for the people. Even when other judges fold around him, he stands up for justice.

The film’s plot focuses on Dredd’s work with a rookie named Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) to take down a drug empire led by the psycopath named Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). Ma-Ma is distributing a drug known as Slo-Mo, which makes its users believe that events are happening much, much more slower than they are actually occurring.

When Dredd and Anderson capture one of her lieutenants, they are locked inside an apartment building by Ma-Ma with little hope of escape. The duo must then face off against a building’s worth of criminals who want the officers dead after Ma-Ma rallies these thugs to her side. With little hope, the two must face off against dozens of Ma-Ma’s deadly forces with no help from the outside.

If the plot sounds familiar, it’s likely because of The Raid’s release earlier this year. Like Dredd, that film focused on several individuals who were imprisoned inside a large building and forced to fight their way out. Of course, that film relied more on hand to hand fighting while Dredd often relies on gun violence to show its lead characters fighting against their enemies.

Ultimately, the action is fun and sometimes exciting but the film’s reliance on it at the expense of character development and surprises mutes its effect. The acting is reasonably good but there’s not much one can do with a stoic character like Dredd and Urban’s performance is ultimately underwhelming. As a fan of Game of Thrones though, it was exciting to watch Headey- who plays the unforgettable Cersei Lanister on Thrones– play a role in which her character must ultimately face the consequences of her decisions.

For die-hard action fans, Dredd might be a film worth pursuing but the whole ordeal felt underwhelming. From the start, we know how the story is going to end and few important characters are ever put n real danger. Additionally, the anti-climactic ending- which left me with questions leaves something to be desired.

If your friends want to take you to see it, Dredd probably isn’t worth dreading but it isn’t really something worth seeing either.

Review by: John Hanlon