Dredd (2012, Pete Travis) Review
Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey
The future America is an irradiated waste land. In this violent world, police have the authority to act as judge, jury, and executioner. Dredd, a well-known judge, teams up with a trainee to take down a gang that deals with the smuggling of narcotics, “Slo-Mo”.
Dredd is best with its violence. It’s brutal, unflinching, and occasionally badass. There is a lot of it, but not exceedingly gratuitous because it truly is the nature of story. The stunts are done decently as well. All of these are complimented by the performances, which in any way aren’t outstanding, but enough to be extremely entertaining. Karl Urban is intimidating with a hard-assed, business commercial voice to play someone like Judge Dredd, and Olivia Thirlby has strong spirit and willpower to play Dredd’s rookie, Anderson. Lena Headey, the antagonist, is very menacing and thrilling, though it would’ve been better to see more layers to her character than just the film exhibiting her in a tonally black format, killing people just for sport.
The thing with this film, in spite of the well-done violence, is that it feels lazy with its world. It takes place mostly in the compound where they’re trapped in, but the futuristic world they live in doesn’t feel fully realized. There are explanations here and there, but there’s no continuity and connection. They’re all loose threads; it takes place in a futuristic America, it’s post apocalyptic, it’s cyberpunk, but these threads aren’t really tied to one another to evoke a great sci-fi setting. The buildings do look great, accompanied by a techno soundtrack (think Refn’s Drive) and gorgeous visuals, but for a film with an interesting world, it doesn’t fully explore the potentials of its bleak future.
Dredd is tough, chaotic, and really brutal. The violence is handled well, the gun shooting and close combats designed and performed with expertise. The visuals are great, the city shots and “Slo-Mo” sequences gorgeously looking as well as the electronic score, but for a science fiction thriller movie, the undeveloped futuristic world was quite disappointing to see. Nevertheless, it’s still worth a look in spite of the setting and the lukewarm antagonist.