Dredd 3D is a right-wing action fantasy set in a depressing future in which police have become judge, jury and very willing executioner.
The film is set in a grim post-apocalyptic future in which cities gave been replaced by hideously polluted, overcrowded and crime-riddled mega cities. Apparently the only way to improve living standards in this dysfunctional world is to have emotionless shoot-on-site police called “judges” enforcing the law.
When the most gung ho of these judges – namely Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) – and his attractive rookie side kick (Olivia Thirlby) are holed up in a gigantic tower block run by crime matriarch named Mama (Lena Headey) they have only one choice and that’s to shoot their way out.
The film soon gives up any attempt at meaningful social commentary or an insightful vision of a dystopian future. It’s only interest seems to be gratuitously gory video game-style violence.
To his credit, though, director Pete Travis (who also helmed Vantage Point and some episodes of The Bill years ago) fashions an atmospheric future world and makes effective use of the 3D particularly when he captures the experience of people who have imbibed the drug “slo-mo” which makes it look as if time has slowed to a fraction of its normal speed.
As the mask wearing Dredd, Urban (who played Bones in the 2009 Star Trek movie and Eomer in last two Lord of the Rings films) has the rigid, emotionless square-jawed delivery of a Clint Eastwood or Christian Bale in the Dark Knight movies. For some, this may be appropriate to the stoic character from the original graphic novels but in this reviewer’s opinion it produced a robotic one note performance.
This film apparently adheres closer than the dodgy Stallone Dredd from 1995 to the graphic novels but it would have been good if it had explored more extensively other elements of those original stories such as Planet of the Apes-style telepathic mutants who are only mentioned briefly here.
This film is not for everyone; gorehounds and action junkies will lap up the bloodshed and amorality and fans of the original graphic novels will probably find interesting aspects not apparent to the average viewer. For most audiences, though, particularly those wanting some emotional depth in their movies, Dredd 3D is a pretty hollow experience.
Nick’s rating: Two and a half stars.
Classification: MA 15+
Director(s): Pete Travis
Release date: 25th October 2012
Running time: 95 mins.
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