I've never read Judge Dredd, or seen that apparently awful movie from the 90s. So I went into this movie with no real preconceptions, apart that Judge Dredd wears a helmet and... judges people. With guns.
Luckily for me, that's almost the entirety of the backstory. In a dystopian future, the remaining non-wasteland part of America has given rise to a mega city, rife with poverty and therefore crime. To stop the rampant spread of criminality, the city has employed a number of "Judges", gun toting police with the ability to act as judge, jury and executioner to whoever they see deserving. Judge Dredd is one of them, and he has been tasked with training up a new recruit, petite psychic Judge Anderson. While investigating a regular old gang murder in the massive apartment complex of Peach Trees, the Judges find themselves trapped in the building by gang lord Ma-Ma. Alone and outnumbered, Dredd and Anderson must use all their smarts and firepower to get out alive.
If it sounds similar to The Raid, then you'd be correct, but I'm pretty sure Dredd was in production first, so all the people calling it a rip off should just stop talking. While it does seem like shutting two Judges in one building would be a little restrictive in terms of plot, the movie is actually handled very well. Different dangers and surprises await on each floor, and there are plenty of well thought out action sequences filled with guns, explosions and blood, just what you'd want out of a 3D action movie. Ma-ma is even in control of the manufacture of Slow-Mo, a fancy new drug that slows down time for the user and allows for plenty of high definition 3D slow motion coolness for when you're getting a bit bored of faces being blown up.
Karl Urban is pretty fantastic as Dredd. His face is covered for the entire movie, and no real emotion or back story is provided, but that's the way Dredd is supposed to be, the faceless embodiment of justice. Urban just growls, scowls and shoots, but radiates coolness while he's doing it. A lot of actors would probably want to leave their mark in the role, but with Urban I couldn't even guess who was playing Dredd until I looked it up. The other characters are quite well played, but nothing to write home about.
Dredd is at its heart a full on action movie. There's more than enough gunfire, explosions and blood and guts to satisfy your average Hollywood fan. The plot is a little restrictive in terms of location, it would have been nice to see more of the city, particularly on Dredd's motorcycle, but they have done well with providing enough variety in action scenes while remaining in one apartment complex. Add a spectacular front man to the mix, and this is certainly a very enjoyable movie. Thankfully it was pretty well received, so we may see more in the rumoured sequels.
My rating: 4/5