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DREDD – Movie Review

Strictly based on the trailers, I had no interest in seeing Dredd.  I had no connection to the comics or the original Sylvester Stallone film, but nothing about the marketing made the movie look fun, original, or interesting.  However, to my surprise, there was strong word of mouth coming out of numerous screenings and festivals, which had my interest peaked.  Unfortunately, I found Dredd to be lifeless, dull, and the most overrated movie of the year so far.

The film is set in a post-apocalyptic America, where judges serve as the primary enforcers of the law.  Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) and partner Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) get assigned to take down a drug gang who reside in a high-rise mall.  However, when the gang traps them inside, it’s up to the heroes to fight their way out.

One of my main problems with Dredd is that nothing tonally feels assured.  In the visuals, this movie is all over the place.  The drug the evil gang manufactures and sells, so cleverly named “Slo-Mo,” slows down the brain’s perception of time to 1%, making for some psychedelic, colorful imagery.  Visually, the gimmick is nice to look at, but it doesn’t do anything beyond that, and after a while, it becomes overkill.  The rest of the visuals are grey, dank, and murky, which are extremely unappealing to look at.

I also found the script to be hopelessly confused.  I couldn’t tell whether certain lines of atrocious dialogue were winking to the audience or taking themselves seriously.  It doesn’t make a difference either way, because the characters reciting them are as hollow as they come.  I realize this isn’t a movie to take literally, but in order to get some enjoyment out of it I need characters to relate to.  The characters in Dredd are the most bare-boned, stock action archetypes and I could care less about what happens to them.

The action scenes are few and far between, and when they hit, they are so obnoxiously overblown with CGI and noise that I couldn’t get into them.  So much of this film is build up to the action, and because the characters are so uninteresting, I got restless during all of these scenes.

The only saving grace is the acting, which is serviceable.  Urban does a commendable job, considering he only had his lower face to work with.  Thirlby and Lena Headey, who plays the villainous Ma-Ma, turn in decent supporting work as well.

I’m pretty baffled as to why people are falling head-over-heels for this film.  Between the uninspired visuals, characters, and story, Dredd really missed the mark for me.  For those who want true nonstop action with a nearly identical plot, watch The Raid: Redemption instead.


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