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Dredd 3D (DQ)

2/10

Stars: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Domnhall Gleeson

Director: Pete Travis

What a load of (expensive) junk this is; it makes the Stallone 1995 film look like a comic-book masterpiece. It's the near future, and America is a polluted wasteland, its bleak Mega City running from Boston to Washington DC on the east coast. Poverty and crime are rife (what else is new?) and the only law lies with the Judges, helmeted mega-armed dispensers of usually lethal justice (the alternative to death being not much better).

Called to a vast tower block to investigate three skinned-alive bodies, the feasome Judge Dredd (Urban) and rookie Anderson (Thirlby), a mutant psychic, soon find themselves trapped in the block by vicious ├╝ber-criminal Ma-Ma (Headey) and her army of gunmen, who control the district's distribution of the drug slo-mo, which helps the participant slow down their sensibilities.

The rest of the film, such as it is, has Urban, a poor man's Clint Eastwood, mowing down scores of Ma-Ma's men as they seek to eliminate him. Very, very slow in parts for an action film (admittedly partly to illustrate the effects of the drug), the film has lots of gory deaths in slow-motion to match.

Dialogue has a few moments to begin with - 'Chuck her in at the deep end,' Dredd is told. 'It's all a deep end,' he growls - but is soon reduced to the purely functional. And, when Ma-Ma sends in four corrupt judges to eliminate Dredd, it becomes difficult to tell one judge from another, especially as they never take off their helmets.

The film is pretty much all shooting with very big weapons, with hapless henchmen dispatched at every corner; any attempts at acting are, in the circumstances, largely irrelevant, and the final outcome never in doubt. To be fair, the production design and Anthony Dod Mantle's smoky photography are both impressive.

David Quinlan

USA 2012. UK Distributor: Entertainment. Technicolor.
96 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

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

Review date: 05 Sep 2012