Posted on September 12th, 2012 in film and tv
Now this is more like it. Got to say I thoroughly enjoyed this lean, brutal, stylish adaptation of 2000AD’s best known character, the perfect antidote to the bloated running times and overwrought self-importance that seems to have infected action films of late. Minimal messing around, a growly voice-over, and we’re straight into a stripped-down plot of one-man justice system Dredd and rookie Anderson fighting for their lives in a sealed off mega-building against loopy drug dealer Ma-Ma and her army of gun-happy crazies. They went for a more modern-day feel than the comic or the ropey Stallone version, but I think that worked pretty well and probably helped a bit with budget conservation (a mere bagatelle at $45 million, I understand). The 3d was good at times but I don’t think added a huge amount. I remain to be convinced of the usefulness of the technology, really, given its drawbacks. Nice score and sound design, though, especially around the sequences of sparkly slowed down time which accompanied the taking of drugs and were used to great and stylish effect.
Acting was pretty solid, especially Lena Heady as the firmly unglamorous Ma-Ma, a far cry from Cersei in Game of Thrones. Karl Urban provided the Dredd frown and the Dredd growl - all very Clint Eastwood but then Dredd is very Clint Eastwood, and I think you’d have to say that in general the adaptation was pretty faithful to the feel of the source material – I spotted a couple of nice nods, Chopper Graffiti and Fatties and so forth. They didn’t really make any efforts to lift the lid and mine the hidden depths of Dredd’s character and motivations, they didn’t try to file off his brutal edges and sentimentalise him, and the film was a lot, lot better for it. Action was sharp, ruthless and very genuinely 18 certificate luridly nasty, the judges even more remorseless than the perps, if anything, which I rather appreciated after some of the more sanitised and sentimental approaches I’ve seen taken recently. If you’re going to show people being shot in the head, I’ve always felt you should take an honest look at the consequences rather than showing the victim bloodlessly toppling over, as in Total Recall.
Overall an uncompromising, uncluttered, unpretentious action film that stayed true to its roots and far from outstayed its welcome. I very much hope Dredd rides again in this current incarnation…