Release Date: 2012
Director: Pete Travis
Why I picked this: Reddit is fawning over it
Brutal, stylistic, and minimalistic. That’s how I would describe “Dredd.” Critically acclaimed but bombing at the box office, this comic book movie is minimal in plot and character development, but heavy on slow motion effects and stylistic violence. The premise is simple: In a futuristic wasteland and dystopian America, Judges enforce the law as judge, jury, and executioner. Judge Dredd, portrayed by Karl Urban, along with rookie Judge Anderson, portrayed by Olivia Thirlby, fight their way through a large apartment complex to take down crime and drug lord Ma-Ma, played by Lena Headey. The set up is basically identical to last year’s “The Raid: Redemption,” but while “The Raid” was a non-stop adrenaline roller coaster, “Dredd’s” intensity comes in bursts. The actions of the main characters do carry weight, and Anderson does go through changes in her character. Urban’s Judge Dredd serves mostly as a vehicle to the action, with the only character change he goes through being his growing respect for Anderson. True to the original comic book, Dredd never shows his face, leaving Urban to convey all of his emotions with the lower part of his face. Urban does an admirable job with the limitations this imposes, but you’ll be left wishing the dialogue for him was better written. It gets a little cheesy. Lena Headey’s Ma-Ma makes for a menacing villain, but her performance is forgettable. The action is satisfying and very well crafted, especially compared to today’s big action blockbusters, but rarely is it exciting. The climax was not as climatic as I hoped it would be, but I was still satisfied with the movie as a whole.
It lacks depth, but this comic book action movie has everything it needs to be a satisfying watch, especially for its unique visuals and its stylistic violence.