If there is one redeeming quality of the movie Dredd 3D, it’s the fact that they do not shy away from being an action-movie first. You do not go to see this movie for it’s character development, rather it’s more of a spectacular display of just how crazy futuristic gun battles can get.
Based on the British cult comic book Judge Dredd, Dredd 3D is a movie that was in desperate need of a remake after the colossal failure of the 1995 Sylvester Stallone-led film. Note: this film has no connection to the 1995 adaptation.
The film takes place in a dystopian future in a place called Mega-City One with about 8 million people living inside a fenced-in metropolis. People live in one of several 200-story housing towers that double as nuclear-blast shelters. The lone enforcing agents are “judges” who have the power to be judge, jury, and instant executioner with Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) being the supreme leader of this group.
Throughout the movie, he is joined by rookie Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) who has the useful power of being psychic. The duo run into trouble when they go into one of these towers to do a routine homicide investigation and find themselves squaring off against prostitute-turned-drug lord Ma-Ma (Lene Headey) and her extremely violent henchmen (fans of the American TV series Game of Thrones will be acquainted with Headey, where she plays an equally loathsome villain).
On the flip-side, Thirlby, though initially questionable in an action role, seems quite natural as the yin to Urban’s yang, providing the main character with a moral side as she uses her psychic abilities to prevent the deaths of innocent men. But it begs the question, would we empathise with Judge Dredd had it not been for Judge Anderson?
The movie is visually stunning and, even in 2D, keeps the action just a notch below what some might consider “real.” It retains a gangster movie feel throughout which, strangely enough, compliments it’s futuristic, Blade Runner-esque look.
Still, the movie lacks any sort of real plot-driving force other than the “get out while you can” narrative. Interestingly, across the region Dredd 3D is being poorly compared to smash 2011 Indonesian film The Raid: Redemption and for good reason – it’s the same movie set in the future.
Though some comic book fans might have been satisfied with the latest effort to bring Judge Dredd to the big screen, the film fails to separate itself from being just another sci-fi action flick.