Marcus Reviews Dredd

29 Sep

Synopsis:

The future America is an irradiated waste land. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies Mega City One- a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the urban cops called “Judges” who possess the combined powers of judge, jury and instant executioner. Known and feared throughout the city, Dredd (Karl Urban) is the ultimate Judge, challenged with ridding the city of its latest scourge – a dangerous drug epidemic that has users of “Slo-Mo” experiencing reality at a fraction of its normal speed

What I Liked:

For those that don’t know, Judge Dredd is a character from a semi popular ultra violent 90s comic where a police task force known as Judges exact justice in a war ravaged post apocalyptic world. The biggest credit that I can give this movie is that it’s a movie that fully understands the material that it’s working with and plays it completely straight. Director Pete Travis doesn’t try and make it bigger/more cerebral than it needs to be nor does he undercut it and turn it into a parody of itself which is what makes it so effective.

The three lead actors in this (Urban, Thirlby & Headey) deserve just as much credit for making this work as the director. Unlike Stallone before him, Urban seems to truly understand the character that he’s playing and truly chews up the scenery when he comes on screen (which was impressive considering you never see the top half of his face) further showcasing that he’s one of Hollywood’s most valuable & consistently strong actors. Headey’s turn as the movie’s scorned hooker turned violent drug lord villain, Ma Ma, was almost equally as strong. There was this calmness to her character’s demeanor that combined with her unexpectedly soft voice really made her for more unsettling then I would’ve imagined just by looking at her. It’s Thirlby that truly owns the movie though as the young psychic recruit Cassandra Anderson who right along with the audience gets a crash course in the environment that Dredd thrives in. Thirlby does a great job showcasing her characters journey from naive new recruit to a hardened and more mature young woman worthy of the Judge title. From the moment that she’s introduced we see her body movements and facial expressions become more and more like Dredd’s. It also helped that Thirlby & Urban had great chemistry on screen and were able to successfully make the teacher/student relationship work without any needless sexual undertones.

Alot of times movies are ultra violent for the sake of pushing the limits, but in this case the violence & the gore feel totally necessary to really drive him the fact that this is a world that has fully fallen into chaos where the only way people will learn is through sheer brute force.

This marks one of the few times where the popular slo-mo effect has been used as an actual plot device in a movie which only makes the scenes when it’s used even more impactful. One of the coolest & most beautiful death sequences that I’ve ever seen take place as a result of this.

Paul Leonard-Morgan provided a great industrial score which was pitch perfect for this film and really added more grit to the world that was created for the movie.

There was some great deadpan humor and snark throughout the movie thanks to Alex Garland & Andrew MacDonald’s script and even when some of the dialogue got cheesy and derivative the actors still somehow made it work.

What I Didn’t Like:

There were a couple of moments where the slow-mo sequences dragged on a little long

After all the work it took to get there, the final act of the film was a tad bit anti-climactic when you think about who showed up towards the end. Due to that I was left wanting a bit more.

Overall:

Dredd is one of those movies that you go into already knowing what you’re going to get and end up getting rewarded with a little extra bang for your buck. Unlike the the 1995 Stallone helmed adaption, this film is able to come off as a legitimately serious action/thriller while still taking a few jabs at itself without it feeling forced. Thanks to it’s visceral action, strong turns from it’s leads, a mostly tight script chock full of deadpan humor, a pitch perfect score, impressive visuals and confident direction, Dredd is a rare remake that not only works but ends up being much better than the original. This movie demands your respect and much like it’s main character, it’s not afraid to beat it into you.

Rating: B

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