The latest 2000AD adaptation packs a mean punch
For a long time, Judge Dredd looked destined to become the type of comic book that struggled to make a successful transfer to the big screen. A widely-panned attempt starring Sylvester Stallone in 1995, which contained several violations of Dredd 'law' (including the removal of the sacred helmet), looked to have sentenced any franchise potential to death.
But Pete Travis' new offering, featuring a script from Alex Garland and a grim, gruff Karl Urban (steadfastly refusing to take off the helmet), is the Dredd film that fans have been waiting for. The plot might suffer from inevitably unflattering comparisons to Gareth Evans' The Raid but it is a film that stays true to its 2000AD comic book origins and the hardcore violence that accompanies it.
Set in a futuristic America where the east coast from Boston to Washington has been turned into a giant metropolis known as Mega City One, and where cops known as 'Judges' preside over the lawless streets serving as judge, jury and executioner, the film follows Dredd (Urban) and clairvoyant rookie Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) as they enter a tower block to investigate a murder that may be linked to a new designer drug sweeping the city.
Once inside the duo find themselves trapped and targeted by the building's sadistic leader Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), forcing them to shoot their way out. Although lacking in the sheer exhilaration of Evans' aforementioned Indonesian martial art flick, Dredd nevertheless packs a mean punch, revelling in the bleak world it effectively creates and Travis' penchant for ultra slow-motion sequences that take the balletic violence of Peckinpah and Woo to new excess. Urban is good value, if deliberately one dimensional, Thirlby excels and the film itself does more than enough to warrant future adventures.
General release from Fri 7 Sep.