Starring: Karl Urban, Olivi Thirlby, Lena Headey, Warwich Greer, Wood Harris, Rakie Ayola
Running Time: 91 minutes
Stallone starring 1995 debacle JUDGE DREDD meant Pete Travis’s DREDD arrived with a low-budget and even lower expectations. Being more faithful to 2000AD’s comic books, and less Rob Schneider should mean the Judge rules – sadly the film-makers had other ideas.
Dredd (Urban) arrives at Peachtrees tower block run by Ma-Ma (Headey), supplier of the drug Slo-Mo. Ruling the block with an iron, and murderous, fist Ma-Ma puts a bounty on Dredd and trainee Anderson’s (Thirlby) heads, entering them in a fight for their lives.
DREDD’s issues begin with an opening that relies too heavily on its one idea, slow-motion. At far too regular intervals the viewer is subjected to horribly edited, epilepsy-inducing slow-motion gun shots, blood splats and stubbly chins, accompanied by an electro soundtrack that would make Kraftwerk spin in their graves if they were dead.
When the action takes place at normal speed it doesn’t inspire, instead plodding from one shoot-out to the next relentless in its quest for mundanity. The shoot, quip, shoot structure is synonymous with action film but it has rarely been put to use so dull and formulaically. The heart-of-stone hero and uninitiated rookie routine adds to the predictability, but the real crime is a total lack of emotional connection. Dredd is a remorseless anti-hero fighting a group of wafer-thin villains, whilst Anderson’s reticence makes her impossible to warm to.
Danny Cannon’s mis-judged attempt in 1995 may have made a mockery of John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra’s creation, but it was a bit of fun; Pete Travis’s take on Judge Dredd may be more loyal, but poor direction, wafer-thin plotting and a dull premise collide to make DREDD a dreary experience. Come back Rob Schneider all is forgiven!