Dredd is a movie directed by Pete Travis and set in an America where most of the country is a wasteland and the population is crammed in like sardines into giant Mega Cities. With all these people squeezed in crime has gotten out of control and the traditional judiciary system cannot cope so a new way of enforcing the law was needed, so the Judges were born. These judges are judge, jury and executioner all in one and Judge Dredd is one of these judges, He’s ‘The Judge Dredd’ as one of the characters refer to him in this movie.
The synopsis is a simple one; the experienced Judge Dredd is given a rookie Judge, Cassandra Anderson, who has only just failed the training to become a judge, but she’s a psychic and is being treated as a special case because of her special abilities so she is given one last chance to gain her passage to becoming a Judge by being given a day in the field with Dredd to see if she has the ability to handle being a Judge.
They respond to a triple homicide in a mega tower called Peach Trees. These are massive buildings that house a huge amount of people and are all but a small city on their own. These towering buildings dominate the skyline of Mega City 1 where this story takes place.
Once they are inside their actions in investigating this crime, in particular arresting someone in a drug den, lead to a gang lord called Ma-Ma taking control and locking the tower down, these towers can shield themselves in the event of a nuclear attack, and has her gang hunting the two judges down.
This movie is so much more then the synopsis I’ve written above. This is a movie about The Judge Dredd. A judge who has no price, a judge who obeys the word of the law to the word, although he does give a little, there’s a good example of this early on. Dredd is not afraid to pull the trigger when he needs to. He is confident in himself and believes in what he is doing to uphold the law. Throw in a rookie judge who he has to assess, in what turns out to be an extreme situation, he has someone with him who is not as sure of herself, but she wants to make a difference and it is mainly through her eyes that we see this movie through. She is new to all of this as we, the viewer, are.
Dredd is played superbly by Karl Urban, who apparently sought out the producers when he heard they were making a Judge Dredd movie. I’ve only just started to read the collections of the Judge Dredd comics but something I knew before I started reading them was that Dredd never takes his helmet off, ever. So for Urban to pull off the performance as Dredd that he did is very impressive. All you see of Urban is his mouth and chin, and that’s it but he still becomes the no nonsense lawman that Dredd is. He is able to pull off a huge array of emotions just with his mouth. Urban has a decent build which he uses to add to making Dredd come to life, and then there is his voice. Urban gives Dredd a very gravelly voice that works so well is almost chilling. I cannot think of a better actor then Karl Urban to play Judge Dredd and when I heard he was playing him I was very happy, and even happier when he pulled this performance out of the hat for Dredd.
Anderson is played by the lovely Olivia Thirlby. This is the first time I have encountered Thirlby and I was very impressed. She has to give a faultless performance as Anderson as she goes through a lot of different emotions through out the movie and she seemed to carry it off. There are times when she needs to hold her own against the violent men around her. The chemistry between Urban and Thirlby seems pretty good on screen. This movie is about Dredd but it wouldn’t work without Anderson’s journey through the movie.
Please return for the second part of this blog post tomorrow.