Visually stunning and cartoonishly violent, this is Hollywood's answer to The Raid.
As soon as last year's Indonesian action thriller The Raid: Redemption hit cinemas, you knew Hollywood would be scrambling to develop a remake. By contrast, when 1995's Judge Dredd hit cinemas, you simply couldn't imagine a time when anyone would ever deem it worthy of a second chance. Tinsel Town's hard to read that way. Some might call the phenomenon 'predictable unpredictability', but an easier term would just be 'Dredd 3D' where novel idea meets stale disaster in a surprisingly successful union.
The film's central character, Dredd (Karl Urban), hails from John Wagner's dark and dystopic graphic novel in which the police have become judge, jury, and executioner all in one. Dredd and his fellow ‘judges’ are the sole symbols of authority in a gritty metropolis beset by gangs and drug syndicates, coldly enforcing the law and upholding ‘justice’ with near-fascist ruthlessness. When he and his rookie partner (Olivia Thirlby) find themselves trapped in a high-rise apartment block controlled by drug czar 'Ma-Ma' (Lena Headey), their only option is to wage war on the gang, one floor at a time, until help can break through. Helloooooooooo Raid: Redemption.
Plot, however, is not their only similarity; the bloodshed in Dredd 3D is both frequent and highly graphic, often delivered with such rich slow motion it plays like the most violent Schweppes commercial ever made. Coupled with the 3D, Dredd serves up a relentless visual feast of shiny gold bullets that tear through enemies' flesh and send specks of blood and bone gently tumbling towards your eyes like James Cameron butterflies from Avatar.
It’s also probably the highest body count for a movie not featuring an atomic bomb, at least since Commando, yet it’s precisely that stylised and completely-over-the-top violence that elevates Dredd 3D above the run-of-the-mill. Action movies are rarely about plot or dialogue, so it’s in the manner and aesthetic of the carnage where they can best define themselves, and in that respect, Dredd 3D delivers.
It's certainly not for the squeamish, but the stunning visuals, inventive action, and warped sense of humour make this one of the better heart-pumpers of 2012.
Published on October 25, 2012 by Tom Glasson