It’s a shame that “Dredd” fizzled at the box office, because it’s a first-rate sci-fi action thriller. Karl Urban plays judge, jury and executioner in Mega City One, a blighted urban conglomeration of Boston, New York, Philadelphia and other east coast cities in the distant future.
The 3D film is not a remake of the Dredd-full 1995 film starring Sylvester Stallone. It’s a rethinking of the graphic novel. Oh, Dredd is still the stone-faced (if only we could see his entire face) executioner and dispenser of instant justice. But, Urban uses his the lower part of his face to give Dredd some level of humanity. After all, he is the protagonist.
The story takes place in Peach Trees, a high-rise building occupied by thousands of residents and controlled by a nasty drug lord named Ma-Ma (Lena Heady). When one of Ma-Ma’s top lieutenants is captured during a murder investigation, she has the building locked down and tells her men to find Dredd, and his newbie counterpart, Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby). Her henchmen have orders shoot-to-kill.
“Dredd” is non-stop violence plus excellent 3D effects peppering an above-average story. Dredd’s unflinching call-to-duty is an attribute the audience will appreciate. He’s countered emotionally by Thirlby’s character, a judge with the same judicial powers of Dredd, but enhanced by her pronounced psychic abilities. She’s a hundred times more sensitive than Dredd, but that’s not because she’s a woman. It’s clear the filmmakers viewed Judge Anderson as a rookie AND a trailblazer. Heady also gives a strong performance as the building’s drug lord. No wimpy women in sight. You gotta love it. Grade: B+
Street Date: January 8, 2013
Formats: 3-D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Download, On Demand and Pay Per View.
Runtime: 95 minutes (nothing drags)
Released by Lionsgate Home Entertainment