He finally had Sylvester Stallone in his sights.
Release Date: 7 September 2012
18 | 96 minutes
Distributor: Entertainment Film
Director: Pete Travis
Cast: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Wood Harris, Domhnall Gleeson
Rest easy, creeps. 2000AD’s fabled Judge is back on the big screen, and there’s no Stallone-shaped disappointment in sight. This is Dredd, and it will blow your head clean off.
In the lawless urban sprawl of Mega-City One, highly trained and heavily armed Judges attempt to keep the peace. A triple homicide causes legendary lawman Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) and Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) to investigate the Peach Trees Mega Block, a vast, over-populated tower that’s fallen under the influence of psychotic gang leader Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). Sensing a threat to the production of Slo-Mo, the designer drug that she’s been flooding the streets with, Ma-Ma puts Peach Trees into lock down and sets out to take down Dredd and his untested partner.
It sounds simple, but the straightforward plot gives Dredd a sharp focus and unstoppable momentum that makes for a breathlessly entertaining 90 minutes. Crucially, Karl Urban is superb as Dredd. He’s an imposing, authoritarian presence, fighting an unwinnable war against crime with lithe physicality and wry humour. Olivia Thirlby more than holds her own as Anderson; her journey from nervy rookie to assured Judge-in-waiting is at the heart of the film. She’s the perfect human foil to Dredd’s almost inhuman drive, and her mutant abilities add an extra psychological dimension to the pair’s intense ascent of Peach Trees.
Alex Garland’s sparse, suspenseful script gets to the core of Dredd’s complex character, and pushes the story along with swift economy. Mega-City One is a feasible day-after-tomorrow horror, full of neon graffiti and bizarrely tattooed gangs, perfectly complimented by a grinding industrial soundtrack.
The relentless stream of action sequences feel frenetic, dangerous and creative, making imaginative use of 3D and keeping the heart pounding. Slo-Mo, the drug that has the residents of Peach Trees hooked, is a handy device used to bring a balletic, hallucinatory quality to the carnage, psychedelic colours tracing rounds as they slice through bellies and faces. Be in no doubt, Dredd earns its 18 certificate – it’s brutally violent, detailing the human cost of Dredd’s deadly efficiency with a Lawgiver.
Lovingly ripped from the pages of 2000AD, Dredd is an adrenaline-fuelled thrill burst that does Tharg’s finest justice, stays true to its roots and leaves you battered, bruised and hungry for more.
Watch a Dredd clip.
Watch the Dredd panel from London Comic-Con.
Read our Dredd reaction from the screening at San Diego Comic Con.
Read more of our film reviews.