When Karl Urban uttered these words, the repressed memories of Sly Stallone’s Judge Dredd briefly regurgitated into my brain. Luckily, the latest iteration of Dredd, at that point, had been an hour of gripping, thrilling, [insert superlatives] filmmaking which left Stallone’s version a distant memory.
If anyone has seen The Raid, you know the plot of Dredd. The famous judge and his rookie, Anderson, take a call at a Megacity apartment block, which happens to be the home of Mama, a violent gang leader, and her goons. ‘It’ hits the fan, the two judges get trapped and they have to fight their way out, all guns a blazin’.
The best thing about this movie is that it isn’t dumb and hasn’t gone in at 12A to cynically make as much money as possible [read: A Good Day To Die Hard]. Action movies have lost their way since the late 90s, with the Bourne trilogy and a few superhero flicks setting the bar over which many filmmakers have failed to jump. We promised to not further entertain the anti-Bay circlejerk that is so prevalent on the Internet, but the orgy of twisted metal and breasts and arse in the Transformers trilogy are an insult to global audiences and are an advert on how not to spend hundreds of millions of dollars. Dredd was made for $50m, which is a pittance in today’s movie budget terms, and proves you can make an entertaining action film without spending more than the GDP of Palau.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not Pride and Prejudice. There is ultra-violence, gore, extreme language and adult content, but weirdly it is done with taste and has an amazing rhythm. We are meant to feel every punch thrown, every bullet sunk into soft tissue, every moment of utter dread (hehe) at the protagonists’ lack of a way out of the situation. The camerawork is amazing, placing the audience about a foot away from capitulating concrete and bloody splatters, with a nice little touch being the Slo-Mo drug, which drops everything down to 1/20th of normal speed. Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headly all get enveloped by their roles and the movie doesn’t resort to the all-to-familiar camp comic book tactics to win over its fan boy audience. It honours the history of Judge Dredd, while nodding its head at ultra-violence of anime and South East Asian cinema. I f***ing loved this movie, and if you’re wanting some rip-roaring, balls-out action movie fare, look no further than Dredd. You’ll thank me later.