Directed by Pete Travis and written and produced by Alex Garland, Dredd is a 2012 film based on the British comic 2000 AD comic strip Judge Dredd. In a futuristic vast dystopian future, the earth is mostly a wasteland and humanity is closed off in huge Mega cities. Crime, corruption and violence rules and only force for order are the Judges, who act as judge, jury and executioner. Back in 1995 the first attempt at bringing this comic to live action film was a commercial & critical flop in Judge Dredd, with Sylvster Stallone as the eponymous anti-hero. Totally unrelated, this 2012 film tries to succeed where the first attempt failed. We have Karl Urban as Dredd with Olivia Thirlby playing a rookie Judge on an assignment and assessment run with him. Lena Hedley plays the villain-ess MaMa.
- Mega City One is the setting of our film, a violent metropolis with 800 million residents and 17,000 crimes reported daily. A new drug called ‘sl0-mo’, which slows the user’s perception of time to 1% of normal, is the hottest seller on the streets. They are sold in asthma inhaler type dispensers and look like colourful liquids. The person behind Slo-Mo is a former prostitute turned powerful drug lord Madeline Madrigal, also known as “Ma-Ma”. She executes three rogue drug dealers by having them skinned, infused with Slo-Mo and thrown down the atrium from the top floor of a 200 storey slum tower, which also serves as the base of her operations. This is when Judge Dredd comes in.
- Dredd is assigned to evaluate rookie Cassandra Anderson, a powerful psychic who failed the aptitude tests to be a Judge. They get the call to investigate the death of the 3 drug dealers in the slum tower. They arrest a thug named Kay, whom Anderson’s mind probe reveals to be the one who carried out the drug dealers’ execution. Dredd decides to take him in for questioning. In response Ma-Ma has the tower locked down by taking over the security control room and having the building’s blast shields activated, cutting of communication & escape. She orders her men to kill the two judges.
- Dredd and Anderson fight their way through, killing dozens of armed thugs. At the 76th floor Ma-Ma with Vulcan cannons that rip through the walls, killing numerous residents. The Judges are able to breach an outer wall and call for help. Anderson intervenes and uses her psychic abilities to read Kay’s mind, learning that the tower, Peach Trees, is the centre of Slo-Mo production and distribution.
- Two judges arrive at the building but are denied access by Ma-Ma’s computer expert denies them entry by persuading them the call is part of the security drill. Meanwhile some armed teenagers attack Dredd, enabling Kay to take over Anderson’s gun and escape with her as hostage, and brings her to Ma-Ma’s base on the top floor. Ma-Ma then calls in 4 corrupt Judges, Lex, Kaplan, Chan and Alvarez, who she has worked & paid off in the past and when they arrive at the building, they are let in. Chan finds Dredd and they fight when his cover is blown. Meanwhile, Kay tries to execute Anderson with her own weapon, but the pistol’s DNA scanner does not recognize him and blows his arm off. Anderson escapes and later encounters Kaplan, whom she promptly kills after reading her mind.
- Elsewhere, Dredd kills Alvarez but runs out of ammunition, and is shot by Lex in the abdomen. Lex moves in to execute Dredd, but Dredd stalls him long enough for Anderson to arrive and kill Lex.The two then find the computer expert who gives them the codes for the building & confront Ma-Ma. She tells Dredd that in the case of her death, a device on her wrist will detonate explosives on the top floors, destroying the building. Dredd reasons that the detonator’s signal will not reach the explosives from the ground floor, so he forces Ma-Ma to inhale Slo-Mo and throws her down the atrium to her death. In the aftermath, Anderson accepts that she has failed her evaluation by getting disarmed, and leaves. The Chief Judge asks Dredd about Anderson’s performance; he responds that she has passed.
Got all that? It’s a messy, grimy, colourful, chaotic movie with lots of slow motion – people getting shot, blood spilling out and bullets ripping flesh and ofcourse the massive falling to her death scene for Ma-Ma at the end. I watched it late at night and found the going a bit tedious and the film predictable. It got some good reviews but failed at the box office. I can see why. I love the comic and had some hopes for this movie. 5 out of 10!