We’ve been hearing a lot of people lately comparing the trailer for Dredd to that of The Raid: Redemption, and rightfully so. The trailer for Dredd really played up aspects of the film that resembled The Raid almost to a tee, but what one has to realize is it’s not the filmmaker who makes the trailer, it’s some dude in marketing who’s like, “People like The Raid? Do that.”
Anyway, Dredd is not the The Raid. The only similarities is it takes place in a locked down building and the villain is at the top. Otherwise, the two should remain seperate. Dredd is a bizarre, funny, action-packed piece of work that hits all the right points.
In a bleak future, cities have been erected from the old world, incorporating new technology and structural architecture in with the basic slums of today’s world. Mega-City One stretches from Boston to Washington D.C, and is overrun by crime and chaos. The only remaining form of law enforcement are judges. Judges have the power of judge, jury, and executioner and use it in spades. Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is a judge of a certain rank that is never really discussed in the film, but one can imagine he has been on the force long enough to gain status.
At the start of the film, he is called in from a routine homicide/insane shooting spree to meet Rookie Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), a trainee who narrowly failed her judge training but is still being considered due to certain abilities of a psychic nature that I will not discuss further.
Dredd takes Anderson out on a training mission to the 200 story Peach Trees building, an apartment/living area for thousands of unemployed and depressing people (and for skateboarding hooligans who have a half pipe built in to the outside of the 78th floor, for some crazy reason).
Needless to say, a homicide investigation at Peach Trees goes awry, and Ma Ma (a fantastic Lena Headey), the leader of a gang of absurdly violent criminals who are also manufacturing and distributing a new drug called Slo Mo (AKA an excuse for awesome imagery), try to kill our two judges.
The plot is simple, but the inventiveness with which the story is told is what sets it apart from other schlock. That and its fantastically droll script, written by 28 Days Later scribe Alex Garland. That being said, it’s a movie written for a specific audience. It’s very, very graphic, very profane, and full of “He totally just said that” lines (his catchphrase: “I am the law.”) The midnight fanboy crowd watched it were drooling all over it, and the people who made it seemed genuinely happy to be a part of something so amusing, which is refreshing.
In final and complete summation, Dredd is simple, delightful, comic fun for a crowd that wants it.
Rated: R (for strong bloody violence, language, drug use and some sexual content)
Dredd opens in theaters on September 21, 2012 and was screened as part of Midnight Madness at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival.