In the distant future, the law has done away with trial by jury and other rights promised by the constitution. The criminal justice system has been simplified to allow police officers (Judges) to perform the duties of judge, jury, and executioner. In this 2012 film, an experienced Judge takes a trainee into his care and the pair join forces to bring down a ruthless street gang that deals in a mind altering substance called SLO-MO.
Dredd is technically a reboot of the Stallone film Judge Dredd but I really don’t think of it as such. This is an adaptation of the comic that is much closer to the source material and a superior effort all together. While it is technically a remake, it far outdoes the inferior 1995 film.
Though it isn’t a true horror film, Dredd embodies a lot of horror elements. The level of violence in this film is actually higher than the carnage that transpires in many horror movies. So while Dredd isn’t a proper horror movie, we still consider it to be under the sub-heading of genre film.
Alex Garland (28 Days Later) penned the script for this 2012 reboot and Pete Travis (Vantage Point) served as the film’s director. Garland’s screenplay is a much better fit tonally than the script for the 1995 original. It is much darker and calls for a great deal more carnage. Travis’ vision for the film is beautifully executed. The cinematography is perfectly implemented. The slow motion shots are especially well done. The film’s overall aesthetic perfectly matches the tone of the comics.
One of the smartest things about Garland’s script is that does away with any attempt at comedy – one of the problems with the 1995 original is that it brought in Rob Schneider to lighten the tone. The gritty and ultra violent nature of this reboot is much more suitable to the source material and Olivia Thirlby (The Darkest Hour) makes for a much better supporting character than Rob Schneider.
Karl Urban (Riddick) is perfectly cast as Judge Dredd. He embodies the role in a much more believable way than Stallone did. He is unflappable and fully convincing in his performance.
Olivia Thirlby is terrific as Dredd’s trainee. She is vulnerable as it is her first day on the job but she proves herself to be tough as hell. Lena Headey (The Purge) is completely believable as Ma-Ma. She is ruthless and really sells the performance in a way that I didn’t think she was capable of until I saw it with my own eyes.
Fans of Dredd have cause to celebrate, as Karl Urban recently revealed that there are talks of a sequel to Dredd. It was a foregone conclusion that a sequel wasn’t going to happen when the film failed to earn back its 50 million dollar budget during its theatrical run but home video sales have more than made up for the disappointing box office results. As a result of the film’s overwhelming success on DVD and Blu-ray, talks of a sequel are currently taking place. There is no official word on anything actually going into production but hopefully more news will be on the way.
Dredd is an ultra violent, hard hitting, good time. It stands as one of my favorite films of 2012 and I am very hopeful that a sequel will materialize. If you haven’t made a point to check out Dredd, you should give it a chance. It is definitely worth your time. The DVD and Blu-ray releases are loaded with extras: There are six different featurettes that go behind the scenes and give context on the film’s origins as a comic.
Director(s): Pete Travis
Writer(s): Alex Garland
Stars: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby
Studio/ Production Co: LionsGate
Budget: $45 Million