Dredd 3D


Dredd 3D works because it keeps its main character at a distance and therefore turns him into an enigma. It achieves this partially by pairing him with a rookie cop who must be evaluated on the day that both of them end up trapped inside the crazed, hellish turf of a drug kingpin, with every junkie and crazed lunatic with a gun out to get them. After a summer of superior comic book adaptations, is it any surprise that Dredd is one of this year’s most visceral cinematic thrills?

The gritty, washed out look of the film owes itself to being set in an irradiated wasteland of the future. In this overpopulated metropolis, crime is rampant (12 serious ones committed each minute, we are told) but is also kept somewhat in check by Judges, who enforce the law by carrying out their combined duties of judge, jury and executioners. As the titular Judge, Karl Urban’s indistinct looks are well hidden under the iconic helmet without being a distraction. The helmet never comes off and Dredd never exhibits anything except absolute fascism in upholding the law.  By pairing him with Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), the rookie, for nearly the entire duration of the film, we are able to witness the finesse and skill with which Dredd executes his job, probing her constantly for the appropriate judgment that should be given for the various crimes they come across. Deliberately confrontational, his rapport with Anderson, herself a fully formed, believable character, is one of the films many highlights.

Comparisons to the Sylvester Stallone film from the mid 90’s are purely incidental. The two share little in common save for the fact that both are based on the character created and owned by UK based publisher 2000 AD. Under the crazed, hallucinatory direction of Pete Travis and the distinctive, no holds barred scripting of Danny Boyle regular Alex Garland, this version rises above convention, expectation and the hackneyed use of 3D to present us with a stylized, nightmarishly brutal action film. But the action isn’t all there is to appreciate about Dredd for in its novel use of 3D, to show us the effects of a drug called Slo-Mo which makes the Matrix’s bullet time look like it was running on fast forward, the use of this oft maligned technique is almost justified.

Except none of the above would matter for a film clearly sold as an action extravaganza if the action itself were not good and Dredd finds plenty of inventive ways to provide its target male audience with testosterone fuelled set pieces and explosions aplenty. The violence, often sickeningly repulsive, but sometimes also cartoonish and over the top, builds on the foundations laid by its equally bloody source material and should therefore not be unexpected to those who’ve read the graphic novels. What is unexpected is how engaging, almost gripping the films is when playing out scenes that are at their heart nothing more than genre material. This is perhaps the best example of what happens when you put together a film out of an eager, determined cast and crew who have no reason to compromise because they have no obligations to anyone but themselves.

Rating: ★★★★☆

About Faizan Rashid

A veteran Dubai based film critic, Faizan has been reviewing movies for nearly a decade. His work has been published in local newspapers such as 7days and on prestigious online websites such as MSN Arabia and wearethemovies.com