Judge Dredd is back, and this time no one will escape his judgment. After a dismal 1995 adaptation starring Sylvester Stallone, the cult comic book antihero returns in a modernized reboot that strips away the one-liners in favor of gritty action and hard-edged characters.
Set in a post-apocalyptic Earth, Dredd follows the titular hero in Mega City One, a futuristic metropolis that houses what remains of humanity following decades of nuclear war. An elite police force called the Judges patrol the streets, acting as judge, jury and executioner all at once.
Karl Urban (Lord of the Rings, Star Trek) steps into the role of Dredd. Unlike Stallone, Urban spends the entire movie with his helmet on. With so little of his face shown, Urban does a magnificent job showing off Dredd’s hard as nails personality. Hearing him growl “I am the Law” over an intercom system shows just how perfect he embodies the Dredd from the comic books.
To compensate for Urban’s facelessness, the film has Dredd training a rookie, Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby.) The Dredd/Anderson combo works wonders, allowing the inexperienced Anderson to grow as a character while admiring Dredd’s larger than life figure.
The film’s plot is simple, with Dredd and Anderson locked in a gigantic apartment complex run by crazed drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey.) This strengthens the film as the characters take center stage over the plot. Several well-staged action scenes make sure nothing is ever dull, and the filmmakers even found a clever use for the 3D via slow motion scenes brought on as a side effect of Ma-Ma’s drugs.
With a simple yet engaging plot, developed characters and several exhilarating action scenes, Dredd is a fantastic sci-fi actioner that doesn’t forget to humanize its heroes.