In a violent, futuristic city where the police have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner, a cop teams with a trainee to take down a gang that deals the reality-altering drug, SLO-MO.
Release Year: 2012
Rating: 7.8/10 (4,730 voted)
Critic's Score: 69/100
Stars: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey
Storyline The future America is an irradiated waste land. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies Mega City One - a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the urban cops called "Judges" who possess the combined powers of judge, jury and instant executioner. Known and feared throughout the city, Dredd is the ultimate Judge, challenged with ridding the city of its latest scourge - a dangerous drug epidemic that has users of "Slo-Mo" experiencing reality at a fraction of its normal speed. During a routine day on the job, Dredd is assigned to train and evaluate Cassandra Anderson, a rookie with powerful psychic abilities thanks to a genetic mutation. A heinous crime calls them to a neighborhood where fellow Judges rarely dare to venture - a 200 story vertical slum controlled by prostitute turned drug lord Ma-Ma and her ruthless clan...
Writers: Carlos Ezquerra, Alex Garland
Cast: Karl Urban
Control Operator 1
Porteus Xandau Steenkamp
Woman with Child
Girl in Window
Girl in Window
Filming Locations: Cape Town Film Studios, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
Box Office Details
Did You Know?
Judge Joe Dredd is a fictional character whose comic strip in the British science fiction anthology 2000 AD is the magazine's longest running, having been featured there since its second issue in 1977. Dredd is a law enforcement officer in a violent North American city of the future where uniformed Judges combine the powers of police, judge, jury and executioner. Dredd and his fellow Judges are empowered to arrest, sentence, and even execute criminals on the spot. The character was created by writer John Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra, although editor Pat Mills also deserves some credit for early development.
When the gang is firing the four machine guns across the shaft, cartridge casings fall to the floor in close-up, yet the ammunition belts feeding into the guns do not move.
Ma-Ma is not the law; I am the law.
A Superior Action Movie
The basic aim of Dredd is simple it needs to be bold, true to the
source material and full of juicy violence, enough to wipe out the
memories of the notoriously poor Stallone attempt of 1995 that threw
plenty of money at the screen without bothering to work on anything
resembling a decent script.
The character of Judge Dredd, now entering his 35th year in UK comic
2000AD (they know it's 2012 - don't ask), isn't a complicated one. He
is, as he is fond of stating, the law. The time is the future, and
amidst the wasteland that is America there is a single, massive city
with 800 million inhabitants, appropriately called Mega City One. It's
quite the scumhole, and the only thing that stands between it and total
chaos are the Judges, trained for years to be the ultimate in law
enforcement, yet so outnumbered they can only handle 6% of the crimes
committed. This, people, is as thin as the blue line gets.
The film is written by long time fan Alex Garland (28 Days later,
Sunshine), and has had plenty of input from Dredd's creator (and still
main writer even now) John Wagner. Filmed in South Africa on what
passes for a tight budget these days (especially for Sci-Fi), it could
be compared to District 9 in terms of the sheer effort put into it,
with a result that is similarly impressive although aesthetically miles
apart. Director Pete Travis (Endgame) does an excellent job, and
between them they have turned in a film that will stand the test of
time as a superior, adult action movie.
The premise is reasonably simple, something that works well as an
introduction to what is, in the comics at least, a sprawling future
world. Dredd is accompanied on patrol by rookie Judge Anderson, very
well played by Olivia Thirlby, who is on the verge of failing her final
assessment but is being given a second chance because of her powerful,
and rare, psi abilities. A routine triple homicide (it's that sort of
city) turns into a siege when they are trapped in a massive tower block
by criminal nutjob Ma Ma (Lena Headey) and forced to fight their way
out and stop her manufacturing the addictive new drug, Slo Mo.
Obviously there's a bit more to it than that, but this is the basic set
up and it works very well indeed, allowing for plenty of violence, some
character development and no few explosions.
I can't write this review without focusing on Karl Urban, who has
previously stood out for his excellent turn as Dr McCoy in the Star
Trek revival. Not afraid to go through an entire movie with a helmet
on, he is spot on as Dredd. He gives us an emotionless machine, a man
who cares for nothing but the law, but a man you want to get behind and
cheer on as he splats bad guys left right and centre. The humanity
comes from Anderson, and it helps that Thirlby doesn't have to wear a
helmet herself, with the handy excuse that it interferes with her psi
abilities. Between them they give us the tired old wardog and the 21
year old rookie on the streets for the first time, and you sympathise
with the life of a Mega City Judge.
Some people have criticized the apparent similarities between Dredd and
the recent film The Raid: Redemption, in which Indonesian cops storm a
tower block and much chop sockey ensues. To be honest, I was a little
worried myself, but having seen both films I can happily confirm that
they are nothing alike. Whilst The Raid is a pretty intense martial
arts film which is rather dull between fights (although the fights are
awesome), Dredd is a tight film all the way through, with the plot more
than an excuse to go from fight to fight.
In conclusion, I can heartily recommend this film, in case you hadn't
guessed. It's sort of like a cross between Robocop and Die Hard, all
moderned up and with better music. It's no coincidence that those are
two of the most kick ass action films ever, and Dredd borrows from the
best, although as Robocop stole from Dredd in the first place it's more
like recovering pinched property. The 3D is actually worth shelling out
for, and there are some beautiful sequences where it comes into it's
own, whilst the film itself is gritty and dirty, although not without a
few lighter moments amidst the carnage. The humour in Dredd's comic
strips comes from the city around him rather than his own actions, and
here's hoping we'll see Alex Garland penning a sequel that allows us to
wander through Dredd's world. Quite simply a superior action film, and
whilst it's no masterpiece (then again, it's not supposed to be) it's
as good as fans could ever have hoped. Here's to the sequels