Dredd (2012)

Not for society, but… y’know… for movies.

Director: Pete Travis
Writers: John WagnerCarlos EzquerraAlex Garland
Starring: Karl UrbanOlivia ThirlbyLena Headey

This is one of the best gritty action films that has ever put to screen. It is gratuitously beautiful, and unflinchingly solid in every department. The story is fun as hell; it’s such perfect action fodder that The Raid (Another incredible, high-octane action flick that came out around the same time) has nearly the exact same premise. The acting is perfect: Urban gives us a thin-lipped, faceless dispenser of unyielding justice, Headey portrays a drug queen that reeks of menace, and Thirlby provides the fresh-faced outsider that has to prove their mettle.

It’s shot so well and so gorgeously that I even watched it in 3D (!) and loved it (3D movies are the devil’s plaything, you see. I typically hate how they look). The plot conceit of a drug that drastically slows the user’s perception of time was an incredibly clever move, paying off in dividends with the cinematography, the action, and the story; it’s so cool and alluring, the effects of this drug just fit together perfectly with everything else this movie does so well.

And who doesn’t love a good dystopian (Basically-post-apocalyptic) sci-fi setting? Good action flicks have a ton of grit in them, and it doesn’t get any grittier than that. And it’s not all slow-motion violence and stunning grime, of course! There are very good emotional elements involved, which you probably wouldn’t expect from a Judge Dredd story. I…

Well, OK, look. I could wax poetic about this film for ages, but I’ve already worked myself up into a frenzy that can only be sated by watching Dredd again, because I love this movie! It’s an exciting flick to just be thinking about! If you call yourself an action movie fan and don’t love it, then shame on you. And if you haven’t seen it, then holy shit! You MUST see it, WHY HAVE YOU WAITED SO LONG.

Verdict: You can’t be my friend if you haven’t seen this movie.


SVEN’S REVIEW: As a rule, I am not a fan of voice-over narration. With few notable exceptions, the device is trite, kitschy, and/or redundant. So, when Dredd began with sulky muttering over a wide establishing shot, I squirmed involuntarily. Ugh. Not again, I thought to myself.

By the time the device is used again (over the final few shots), I was 100% on board. The closing narration explicitly frames the movie as a day-in-the-life of the title character and is the absolute key to the movie’s charm. Why? Well…

Essentially, Dredd is a crime-fighting movie. It pits a superhero/super-cop character against an exaggerated, overwhelming force of law-breaking baddies. These criminals are fought. Crime fighting. I cannot possibly overstate how refreshing it is to see a movie in this genre that has no convoluted, Machiavellian scheme with far-reaching, world-changing ramifications. It’s just a man doing work. All we’re watching is a randomly chosen day (out of possibly hundreds) in which Judge Dredd goes to the office.

The brilliance of this framing choice that it doesn’t hit you until those final words. In that instant, the audience is immediately sold on the story, character, and world of this movie. And it’s pretty damn tight.

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