Dredd: written by Alex Garland based on the character created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra; directed by Pete Travis; starring Karl Urban (Judge Dredd), Olivia Thirlby (Judge Anderson), and Lena Headey (Ma-Ma) (2012): This faithful adaptation of the venerable British action-satire comic-book series Judge Dredd would have been a big hit in the early 1980’s. It’s old-school action, a somewhat low-key day-in-the-life movie in the vein of John Carpenter’s Escape from New York and Assault on Precinct 13.
In the post-apocalyptic urban sprawl of MegaCity One (population 800 million), which occupies much of America’s East Coast and stands above a countryside devastated by war and pollution (The Cursed Earth), police officers are judges, juries, and executioners if need be. Judge Dredd is the best of them.
With a new drug on the streets and Lena Headey’s psychotic crime boss in control of an entire residential block/building, Judge Dredd and trainee Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) walk into a killing zone. And for about 70 minutes, they try to fight their way out of it.
Karl Urban is solid as Dredd, a character who never removes his helmet. Thirlby is also good as the psychic Anderson, who gets some great on-the-job training here as everyone tries to kill the two Judges. The movie does a nice job of capturing the odd action-satire of its original: Dredd is both a Dirty-Harry-style badass and a pointed commentary on Dirty-Harry-style badasses.
It’s too bad this bombed, as I’d have liked to see the film-makers’ take on the whole Judge Death saga. But at least this helped wash the memory of the horrible, horrible, horrible 1990’s Judge Dredd, starring Sylvester Stallone and Rob Schneider, out of my head, though obviously not completely. Easy the Ferg! Recommended.