Film of the Week: Dredd (2012)


Pete Travis (and possibly Alex Garland) directs Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby and Lena Heady in this lower budgeted second punt to bring Old Stoney Face to the big screen.

I was raised on 2000AD and six pages of Judge Joe Dredd a week was always the highlight of a Saturday morning. Thrill power packed stories with a subversive edge and an iconic lead character you could always rely on. So after the daftly epic but unfairly unloved Stallone effort it was pleasing to see the character and his Mega City One given another chance to get it right on the big screen. And boy oh boy do they get a lot right. Tone, violence, design and most importantly casting this feels much more like my own Dredd and – even though it is a completely original tale with some mere practical tweaks in uniform and universe – Dredd ripped straight out of the comic books. Karl Urban bring the essential Eastwood toughness and confident training of an unstoppable killing machine to his middle aged Joe. This stand out turn should have made him an action star. Olivia Thrilby has all the emotional heavily lifting to do as a rookie version of psychic Cassandra Anderson and to sort of quote the film “She’s more than a Pass.” The unconfident rookie and the hardliner old hand trapped in a deadly tight spot both work well with each other and sparking off each other. Heady is great villian; scarily nasty and with more distinctive heavies to put between her and the heroes than any Bond baddie can muster. If you are not already a fan of the existing property, is there much to enjoy? I would say more than so. If you are a lover of hard edge action sci-fi like Escape From New York, Aliens or Total Recall there will be more than equal pleasures here for you in the finely realised future world, the bloody and kinetic confrontations and terse exchanges. For action fans, Dredd is about as strong flavoured a flick as there has been since Arnie went into politics, Jim Cameron started preferring a romance and Carpenter lost the plot. A big, dirty popcorn flick that impresses me more and more with each rewatch far beyond my own nostalgia for its inventive, 2D source.


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