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Dredd 3D (AF)

10/10

Stars: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Wood Harris, Langley Kirkwood, Junior Singo
Freel - Luke Tyler, Jason Cope, Domnhall Gleeson, Warrick Grier

Director: Pete Travis

Once upon a time (in 1995, actually) Sylvester Stallone played comic book hero Judge Joseph Dredd: it was a deserved failure with its tyro director Danny Cannon finally ending up working on a huge number of wallpaper TV episode shows like ‘CSI: Miami’, ‘CSI: Crime Scene Investigation’ and ‘CSI: New York’.

Here Urban is stern, dangerous and commanding as the helmet-wearing lawman who serves as judge, jury and executioner in a grim and grimy massive mega city in war-ravaged futuristic America.

Urban, screenwriter Alex Garland and director Pete Travis, ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself. This action-heavy reboot erases memories of Stallone’s failure, replacing them with a strong storyline, fast paced direction and enough well staged action to satisfy even the most adrenaline addicted moviegoers without playing down to them.

Urban, effectively establishing his hard-assed, take-no-hostages character right from the start, is assigned to investigate an apparently routine homicide in the 200-story vertical slum run by merciless monster Ma-Ma, chillingly brought to all-too-vivid life by Lena "Her trademark was violence" Headey.

It doesn’t take long, however, for Judge Urban to find himself fighting for his life when Ma-Ma closes the building down and sets her crooked clan to hunt down and kill Urban and rookie Olivia Thirlby who has been sent out with Dredd for him to assess her abilities as a potential law-keeper. Naturally, Ma-Ma lethally underestimates Urban while he comes to appreciate Thirlby’s powerful psychic abilities as they fight for right against the appalling odds…

While there are resonances of ‘The Raid’ in the bloody corpse heavy assault on the 200 story high skyscraper, they are only resonances. Travis, ideally served by his three key leads, realises Dredd as a stand-alone success with not only action addicts, who are ideally catered for, but also for moviegoers who enjoy films set in an all-too-realistic and depressing dystopic future post-war Earth and fans of science fiction in general.

Dredd’s driving direction is complemented by vivid art direction (Mark Digby) first-rate special effects and, especially Anthony Dod Mantle’s atmospheric cinematography whose 3D filming genuinely adds an impressive extra dimension to the heady suspense, action and thrill-driven proceedings.

Alan Frank

US/UK/India 2012. UK Distributor: Entertainment Film Distributors. Colour.
95 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 05 Sep 2012