"America is an irradiated wasteland" those are the first words spoken by Karl Urban's Dredd, in his Rorschach like voice. He's the titular character in Pete Travis' CRIMINALLY UNDERRATED 2012 remake. (side note: it was written and produced by Alex Garland who I can guarantee you is making another appearance on this list.) It is a re-telling which makes the 1995 version (titled Judge Dredd) look so lifeless in comparison, that you'd swear they cast Stephen Hawking in every part.
|Fuck, I feel bad about the joke. ok?|
The aesthetic feels every bit of irradiated too, an orange glow creeps into exterior shots, smog smothers a bombed out megalopolis, skyscrapers scratch a grey sky. In post nuclear apocalypse America crime has overrun every aspect of civilization. 800 Million live among the barricaded ruins that was once Boston to D.C. in whats known as Mega City One. Due to the high volume of crimes, cops have been charged with the responsibility of being judge, jury, and executioner. Often dolling out justice on the spot. Which is why all the cops in the film are just known as Judge. Awesome.
Listen, I'm not going to try and hide it. I'm in a deep kind of love with this movie. Just a down-for-whatever-late-night-calls-go-to-jail-get-bailed-out-and-go-again kind of love. It's one part Training Day and two parts The Raid, with just a dash of Dark Knight (all AMAZING films) this movie bakes it into a warm delectable dessert that I can't stop eating. In fact bonus points if you can guess the over/under on how many times I forget myself and just unabashedly scream how much I love this goddamn movie.
|Truly the shittest meme ever created|
In the first five minutes we see a car chase, multiple slow motion scenes and a dude getting a flare shot into his mouth. Complete with witty one liner. (Whatever you say, Hotshot.) Karl Urban talks in one liners and it’s so fucking great. His gravelly voice just sounds so good delivering punny kill lines. With a blistering pace of 95 minutes it's high octane baby, and it doesn't slow down for ANYTHING.
The plot centers around rookie Judge Anderson, played by newcomer Olivia Thirlby, and her first day assessment test that Dredd is tasked with grading. On their first assignment of the day, they are called out to investigate three murders at a mega structure (Read: Giant Apartment Complex) known as Peach Trees. While taking in a perp, gang lord Ma-Ma manages to lock down the apartment complex (with nuclear blast door protocol! Fuck yeah!) Which means the only way out is up 200 floors of angry gang members.
|"Hey Rookie" |
"Wanna brutally punish 100s of gangsters?"
As Dredd and Anderson work their way up and the cacophony of shooting starts, Travis finds a way to make it feel new and inventive. Through the aforementioned slo-mo or any number of gadgets in The Judge's arsenal, the shooting, ballistic and cinematic, manages to never feel stale. In less imaginative hands (See: original Judge Dredd) the movie's outrageousness would feel comical and absurd, but here it’s just refined into pure awesomeness.
As the movie crescendos and comes to its bloody climax, you'll wonder where the last 90 minutes has gone as Dredd seems to have speedily gobbled them up. If you can enjoy the delightfully off-putting violence then I can't more highly recommend this gorgeous brutal film.
Side note: Every once in awhile a campaign for a Dredd sequel will pop up on social media. Next time it happens do me a favor and make your voice heard. The world will always need more justice.