Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Harsh is probably the first word that comes to mind when describing gritty and ultraviolent Dredd. A major departure from the corny and overblown 90's dud featuring Sly Stallone and an insufferable Rob Schneider, this latest cinematic incarnation of the future's most extreme supercop and the post apocolyptic world he inhabits is lean, mean, and much like its titular character, sticks to its guns.
One of the aspects that I enjoyed most about Dredd was the intense focus of the storytelling. Rather than bog the audience down with 45 minutes plus of tedious exposition and backstory we are told all we need to know about the film's setting, the distopic Mega City 1, and the elite organization who police its streets and if the situation mandates, perform on site executions, Judges, in the first few minutes of the movie. From that point on, boom, we are off and rolling. This immersive, no nonsense approach is best summed up in a line of dialogue early on in the film.
"Sink or swim it is time to throw her in the deep end and see what she's made of" says a recruitment officer to Dredd of a rookie, Anderson, whose performance he must evaluate after a day of on the job training. "It's all a deep end" responds Dredd dubiously, no doubt talking about the chaotic urban hell hole that is Mega City 1, which is so dense and sprawling that Judges can only respond to six percent of the crimes that occur. In this way, from a thematic standpoint it as if the film itself wastes no time chucking the audience right into the deep end right along with Dredd and Anderson, letting us learn more about them through their actions and behavior as the plot progresses and the situation they have to deal with becomes more and more dire.
All the performances were solid though I particularly enjoyed Karl Urban's portrayal of the scowling, gravely voiced Dredd. Despite his cold, emotionally detached demeanor and nonexistent moral compunctions for blowing multiple bullet holes through a host of unsavory characters it is clear that he holds himself to an extremely high standard of conduct with an emphasises impartiality. This is best expemplified in the very fair, indiscrimmatory way he treats Anderson, who Dredd's superiors are pushing on him to pass mostly due of her strong telepathic abilities rather than any proven aptitude for the work, and in a scene were, despite Anderson's being 99.9 % sure of an apprehended crimminal's guilt, Dredd replies that that is still not good enough for them to perform an on the spot execution.
Besides giving the audience a rudimentary understanding of Dredd and what he does, almost everything else about the man wearing the uniform remains shrouded in mystery. This includes his face, which in a nice nod to the comics, we never recieve a full glimpse from behind his trademark Judge's helmet. I really enjoyed this minimalist approach. It left me wanting to know more about the character and the circumstances that led to him being that way.
Although unfortunately it seems to have flown a bit under the radar in terms of commercial sucess Dredd is a film that deserves to be seen. With smart, thought provoking writing and an overall creative vision that manages to be both provocative and harshly uncompromsing it is definately a movie that grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go until well after the credits roll.