I haven’t finished my Iron Man 3 review yet — work keeps getting in the way, dammit, and also writing that could, at least potentially, make me some money, and reading too, because The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is the BEST — but I do at least have a Baby Review for you.
I’d planned to see this in theater (mostly because I kept hearing good things about it, which surprised me) but I never quite got there. So my friend Denise and I did a little movie exchange: she borrowed my copy of the original The Thing, and I borrowed this.
Dredd is a lot of fun, but it’s getting the Baby Review treatment today, partially because I’m a busy nerd who wants to get back to her regularly scheduled reading time, but also because I just don’t have a lot to say about it. I can’t compare it to the original comics because I’ve never read them. I can’t compare it to the Sylvester Stallone movie because I’ve, thankfully, never seen it. And the film makes absolutely no attempt to be any deeper than it needs to be. Judge Dredd himself (Karl Urban) has virtually no kind of character development or backstory of any kind. They tell you absolutely nothing about him, just that he’s a badass. Sometimes, I’m okay with that. This is one of those times.
Here’s what I can say about Dredd:
1. Despite being set in a dystopian America where crime is so prevalent that the police are authorized to be judge, juries, and executioners, Dredd has a very similar plot set-up to The Raid: Redemption, an Indonesian martial-arts action movie that I also really liked.
2. Karl Urban is fun as Dredd, all stern and badass and very Clint Eastwood — who apparently was a big inspiration for the character in the comic books. Also, he never takes off his helmet, which is apparently a Big Deal. (It’s okay. I can wait a couple of weeks to see Karl Urban’s pretty face in Star Trek: Into Darkness.)
3. Olivia Thirlby plays Dredd’s new, psychic, probationary partner, and she gets the unenviable task of being the I Must Learn The Will to Kill girl — at least to an extent — but she does the job pretty decently, I think, and overall I like her quite a bit.
4. Also, psychic showdowns? Kind of awesome. I love it when mental battles are actually done well in movies.
5. Lena Headey continues to be a Bad Ass in all things.
5. This is the rare film where all the slow-motion action is actually highly plot relevant and surprisingly works pretty well. (I do think they use it maybe one or two more times than they need to, and occasionally the shiny-ness of it all is a little silly and would probably look better with a bigger budget, but overall it works.)
6. Decent foreshadow and set-up in this movie. I can’t go into detail without spoilers, but I approve. I also like that this isn’t a big Save the World story, that it’s just a job, one day’s violent BS in a long string of violent BS-filled days. That works for me.
7. Dredd is a pretty violent film, which also works for me. There are a few surprising moments too, just stuff you don’t normally see in action movies like this — like what might happen to innocent bystanders during those big cop car chase sequences — and I enjoyed those little moments.
Fun, solid action flick.
Karl Urban. He basically has to do all of his acting with his voice and chin, so even if there isn’t much in the way of character to explore — you need a strong lead to sell this.
There is no negotiation.