Judge Dredd tries to do a drug bust. The perpetrators resist. This is, at its core, the plot of the film Dredd, which is based on a comic book series and has previously been made into a film where the titular character was played by Sylvester Stallone. Set in post-apocalyptic North America, in a place called Mega City One, Dredd is the story of one man’s relentless pursuit of law and order. Dredd (Karl Urban), is a Judge, a member of an elite law keeping organization which acts as judge, jury, and executioner for the populace of Mega City One.
Dredd is saddled with a rookie named Cassandra Anderson who is getting her last chance to become a Judge over the course of a day-long test with Dredd. Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) is a psychic who would be a great asset to the Judges, but hasn't managed to squeak by the exam with a passing grade. The pair begin by investigating a triple homicide in the Peach Trees block (a 200 level mega apartment complex) and quickly come into conflict with Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), the crime boss and drug lord who rules the block.
Dredd is a film of unflinching violence. Bullets fly, blood sprays, bodies fall. Dredd is a man with compassion but no mercy. He knows crimes and their punishments and carries them out unflinchingly. Often shot from below or in some way obscured, the visuals and music which surround Dredd are those typically associated with monsters from horror movies. One particularly relevant example is a scene where Dredd moves slowly through a hallway in the block while observed by the terrified residents through the peep-holes of their doors.
Dredd is rated R and with the violence, gore and general harsh nature of the world in which it exists no other rating would do. Watching Dredd I was surprised by just how good a movie it actually was. I would certainly recommend it to anyone who likes either science fiction or crime stories and who can handle a certain amount of gruesome realism- just don't expect the film to mirror the comic book too closely.
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