Welcome to Mega City One! Spanning from Boston to Washington D.C., it is populated by poverty stricken drug addicts who live as tenants in high rise buildings that have popped up all over the sprawl. This is the future. There is no more Constitution. There are only Judges. They are cops with the power to enact sentencing and executions on the spot. This film focuses on one Judge in particular, Judge Dredd!
The plot is rather straight-forward. The stoic Judge Dredd (played perfectly by Karl Urban) takes rookie Judge Anderson (Olivia Thrilby) out on the field as an assessment. In this version of the future, there have been genetic freaks who prowl about. Some of them have telekinesis. Most of them are hideously deformed, but lucky for us, Judge Anderson isn’t. Dredd takes the mutie cutie under his wing and they go out to investigate a triple homicide in a 200 story high rise known as “Peach Trees”. The judges find out that this is a drug haven run by the evil drug lord Ma-Ma (Game of Thrones / 300 star Lena Headey, looking all kinds of cracked out).
It is at this point the film really begins. The Judges are forced to fight for survival as Ma-Ma closes off the building, trapping them both inside in a very hostile environment. This is where Dredd’s expertise and Anderson’s psychic powers come in handy. Along for the ride with the Judges is their prisoner Kay, who gave Ma-Ma the idea of executing the three to begin with. The Judges plan to bring him in to testify, and stay alive in the process, making their way up floor by floor to take out Ma-Ma.
The film is based on the comic book series that has spanned over the past 30 some years. Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with it to compare and contrast how faithful it is to the comics. I have read that it is a very good adaptation though, especially when compared the the Judge Dredd movie from 1995. It is a weird concept: a British comic trying to make fun of American law, by making up a fantasy world in which the Constitution doesn’t exist. Be that as it may, we are supposed to be on Dredd’s side through this even though we disagree with the methods at his disposal. I guess it’s a “What-If” scenario. And as our elected leaders continue to tear away at our Constitutional rights, and we have North Korea pointing weapons at us, we have to wonder if we are drawing closer to this type of future.
But all that is too heavy to talk about in this review.
The film is short and to the point, very brutal, and not much time is wasted. There are no really stellar set-pieces, but the action is intense and stylish gun battles are not needed for this type of gritty storytelling. They do have one scene that shows the effects of the drugs Ma-Ma sells. It’s called “Slo-Mo” because it slows down the user’s perception of time. There are a couple really protracted scenes that show off this effect, which does look incredible in Blu-Ray, but there is one scene where they have a shoot-out while the perps are high and it just looked rather silly and cheap. That one scene is the only real issue I had with the film.
Also, Kay figures out that Anderson has psychic powers that she can’t turn off so he imagines having all kinds of sex with her in order to upset her. She gets a bit angry at this and makes him imagine Ma-Ma biting his penis off. We only get little snippets of the things he imagines, but a hentai artist was nice enough to draw pictures of what an extended version may have looked like. They are NSFW. I found them while doing image searches for this review (haha yeah right).
It’s a cool action movie, kinda like an 80’s flick. All killer, no filler. Check it out.