Dredd 3D: 2012s Unsung Hero

In my last post, Ryan Partlow mentioned a movie that was almost completely overlooked this past year. It deserved much better than what it got at the box office. I’ve decided to give my two-cents Dredd 3D.

   Movies tend to muddle themselves up quite frequently. How often do you get a fairly interesting action movie with a strong cast, only to have the focus of the film go off in a hundred different directions, ala Spider Man 3, in which we’re introduced to far too many villains and side plots? There is a fine line between what a director wants to accomplish with their film and what is actually possible. The closer a director is to that line of what is possible without going over, the better off the movie tends to be. A movie may not have a very ambitious plot, but if those behind the camera know what they want and how to attain it to it’s maximum potential, it’s going to be a better experience for everyone. In Dredd 3D the filmmakers involved were working with a below average budget. They knew their limitations both in regards to story and financial ability and they nailed it.

Dredd follows the titular hero as he takes the rookie, Anderson, out for observation. While on the call they unwittingly cross the “MaMa Gang” and find themselves locked in a massive vertical cement city. The MaMa gang consist of some of the most ruthless gangsters in Mega-City One; the fictional post apocalyptic city/state in which the story takes place. Ma-Ma (played by Lena Headey) is a the head of the gang, she is responsible for the distribution of the drug SLO-MO, a narcotic that makes the user feel as if time is passing at 1% of its normal speed. She is a ruthless psychopath. Karl Urban plays Dredd perfectly; cold, calculating and unforgiving. Anderson (played by Olivia Thirlby) is a young woman with psychic abilities who is in the process of becoming a Judge. Judges are the cities law enforcers who make judgments and pass sentences on the spot. The world of Dredd is extremely violent and brutal, which is part of what makes this movie so fun.

There is no plot twists in this movie. There are no odd tangents that the characters go off to follow to the detriment of the viewers, this is quite simply one entire gang verses two Judges. With the massive concrete tower sprawling into the sky, it gives the entire film the feeling of an old school video game as our heroes work their way up to the top floor. This feeling that is enhanced by the increasing body count. It’s an extremely simple process, and the characters themselves have very little character arch; but that was precisely what was intended. We’re treated to something like an 80s action film, without the melodrama. The original Dredd character was based off of Clint Eastwood’s character in the  Dirt Harry movies, a parallel that becomes more and more clear as the movie progresses. From all points, this movie should have just been another mindless action movie lost in the white noise of it’s genre. the actors involved executed their roles so well, and the makers of the film were so devoted to the source material that the project meant too much to let it fall into the standard cliches.

The quality is superb, it’s unflinching in it’s brutal violence, unrelenting in it’s adrenaline filled action scenes, and unforgiving towards evil. Next to Cabin in the Woods, Dredd 3D was the most fun I had in theaters last year.