It’s hard to mention the movie Judge Dredd and not audibly groan. Sylvester Stallone’s take on the comic book character is a travesty of film, and it sent the Dredd character and franchise back to the stone age. I honestly thought we’d find out who killed Kennedy before we saw another attempt at this series. Thankfully we did not have to wait that long because Karl Urban breathes new life into Judge Dredd in this fun and fresh action movie.
If you are unfamiliar with the story of the Judge Dredd universe, war has ravaged the world and there is not much left. Those that survived formed a massive, walled-off city in which violence runs rampant. Here the police act as the judge, jury, and executioner and may kill you for seemingly minor offenses in an attempt to maintain order. In “Dredd,” the titular character and his rookie trainee are locked in a massive slum tower by a drug kingpin called Ma-Ma. Their goal is to take down Ma-Ma and her operation or die trying.
Many action movies of late seem to be relatively blood free so they can maintain a “PG-13” rating. The action is softened a bit so more people can potentially see it and the studio earns a bigger box office. Luckily the makers of “Dredd” had a pair and really earned the “R” rating it was given. Of the numerous action sequences throughout the movie, they are all extremely violent and a lot of fun. Whether it was a shootout or a hand-to-hand takedown, the makers of “Dredd” saw fit to allow the audience to see the action as opposed to violently shaking the camera anytime the action started. This foreign concept of actually viewing the action was taken a step further with a drug featured heavily in the movie aptly named, SLO-MO. As you might have guessed, users of this drug perceive time at much slower rate than normal. With time slowed down, the audience can really see what’s going on amidst the chaos of the fight. On top of that, it made the 3D effects quite good for a change, and that’s something I’ll rarely say.
For as good as a movie’s action can be, it can be diminished or nullified if you can’t get behind the main character or enjoy the story. Gone is the silly barb-slinging, buddy pairing of Sylvester Stallone and Rob Schneider. Karl Urban manages to pull this franchise out of the ashes with his permanent scowl and a gravelly voice that Christian Bale’s Batman could have learned a thing or two from. Urban plays Judge Dredd as a stoic man of few words. He walks into a room, dispenses justice by shooting the ever-loving crap out of it, and maybe says a line or two of dialogue without being overly cheesy or dropping an superfluous one-liner. Thanks largely to Urban’s selective delivery and (forgive the pun) execution, Judge Dredd can utter the line, “I am the law!” without it sounding like a joke. In fact, when this line is spoken in “Dredd”, it is, in my opinion, the most badass moment of the movie.
“Dredd” is a lot of fun and a very brave action movie. It alienates some of its viewers with an “R” rating, but the end product is one that separates itself from the rest of the pack. Maybe Judge Dredd is not the most compelling character, and SLO-MO is a different name for bullet time, but that doesn’t make it any less fun to watch an uncompromising, elite police officer wreck house in a “Die Hard”-esque setting.
I loved “Dredd.” The action does not pull any punches, I like the characters, and amazingly the 3D was worth seeing. If you’re a fan of action movies, you would be doing yourself a disservice by missing “Dredd 3D.”
for how Clint Eastwood called. He wants his voice back.
tl;dr – Though Sylvester Stallone nearly ruined this series for moviegoers, Karl Urban brings Judge Dredd back from the brink.