Saturday, 2 January 2016

Dredd (2012)

"Life without parole? That's a deal you're offering?"

This film, unfortunately, exists in the shadow of a much bigger and distinctly awful film made in 1995 and starring Sylvester Stallone who (shock horror) removes his helmet. This film, on the other hand, tells a tale on a much smaller scale and, in Karl Urban, has an actor good enough to entirely subsume his ego beneath the helmet. He's sublime.

There's a monologue at the start establishing judges, Mega City One and the Cursed Earth, but this is essentially set entirely in one tower block controlled by one criminal gang. Dredd is the Dredd we know, hardly a character with depth or development potential, so he's paired with rookie Judge Anderson, a pysychic who is put through a baptism of fire before finally (and understatedly; no sentiment here!) passing her assessment. Olivia Thirley is essential in a much-needed past to add character and drama, not to mention oestrogen. Lena Headey is similarly excellent as Ma-ma, the big bad.

The world of the comics has been thoughtfully recreated for cinema. Given the grotesques and slightly cartoonish artistic style of the comics, a slavish recreation would not have worked, but its spirit remains even though there has been a necessary injection of realism. The grotesquerie and dark satire is all present and correct, and Dredd even gets a kick-ass speech. The effect of the slo-mo drug is achieved with particular creative brilliance in what is an extremely well-directed film. Dredd is nothing less than a triumph, with the decision to go small-scale completely vindicated.

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