Dredd 3D (2012) Directed by Pete Travis. With Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey and Wood Harris.
Seventeen years ago, a Sylvester Stallone sci-fi action vehicle was released into the world under the title ‘Judge Dredd’. Based on the character from the popular 2000AD comic book series, the film was a huge disappointment with critics and a source of much heartache for Dredd devotees in the way it seemed to blatantly disregard crucial aspects of the source mythology both in look and tone.
Fast forward to present day, a world in which comic book characters mean big money for film studios, surely enough time has passed to allow the old Judge another crack of the whip right? I’m happy to say that fans of John Wagner’s original comic series should be able to relax and enjoy this much darker and tougher representation of their much loved character. Although the film, and it’s (permanently) helmeted protagonist, a satisfyingly chinny Karl Urban, is a straightforward and simple beast, it actually works well for it. Dredd isn’t given a back story or imbued with much in the way of humanity, he’s instead portrayed more as the mysterious ‘man with no name’ whose dialogue is limited to one-liners that usually precede some variety of serious ass kicking. Where the 1995 Judge film was light and comedic, this version is hardcore and extremely violent with some surprising explosions of brutality meted out in a world that’s long since gone to hell.
As is pleasingly more and more the case in mainstream action cinema, there’s strong female representation in Olvia Thirlby as Dredd’s rookie sidekick and a nasty Lena Headey on form and fresh from bad girl duties in the celebrated TV series Game Of Thrones. Dredd 3D can’t and won’t be considered a classic of the genre, but it’s a huge step-up from the Stallone version and should satisfy any and all sci-fi action fans looking for a fun Friday night thrill. Visually arresting and with a sensible running time, Dredd rocks. 4/5