Welcome to the future. Welcome to the wasteland that is America. Welcome to Mega City 1, a metropolis that spans from Boston to Washington D.C. A city with a population of 800 million, where over 17,000 crimes are reported daily with only “judges” to try to clean up the streets..
Now I went to this movie with the bad taste of the 1995 movie still in my mouth (mostly from Rob Schneider) but eager to see what director Pete Travis had to offer in regard the 1977 British hero made famous by John Wagner. I walked out wanting more and hoping down the line there will be a sequel.
The story starts with Judge Dredd (Karl Urban), the feared, gritty, ruthless judge, jury and executioner patrolling the streets with his “Lawmaster” motorbike and doing what he does best: chasing down criminals and dispensing judgement. Dredd comes to realize there is a new drug on the streets called Slo-Mo, which gives the illusion of slowing down time. The special effects and the 3D element heighten the scenes of junkies when using Slo-Mo and when the thugs try to have a shoot out with Dredd while still on the high of Slo-Mo.
Dredd is called to the Hall of Justice to break in a rookie, a mutant psychic named Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby). Their 1st assignment is to investigate a triple homicide in the Peach Trees tower. The tower is ruled by a prostitute-turned-drug lord named Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) and her clan of thugs and junkies. All hell breaks loose when Ma-Ma puts the tower in lock-down and sends her gang to kill Dredd and Anderson. I won’t spoil the whole story, but I was satisfied when the brutality and violence kicked in, and let me tell you, the bullets and the body count are aplenty.
Some people have already compared this film to a movie that came out earlier this year, The Raid:Redemption. Both movies take place mostly in a tower, and in both movies the hero has to go through the thugs in the tower to get to the big boss. The Raid:Redemption has a lot choreographed martial art filmed fights while Judge Dredd lets his “lawgiver” pistol do all of the action. I enjoyed both movies. The Raid:Redemption is out on DVD if you want to compare them.
In my geek opinion, I thought Karl Urban did a good job as Dredd, tough and sneering. Fans of the comics will be happy to know Dredd never takes his helmet off, which was a big no-no in the 1995 movie. Lena Headey was great as the sadistic, take-no-prisoners Ma-Ma. I would love a 3rd movie to explore more of Mega City 1, more story-lines, and to have more Dredd.