Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey
Director: Alex Garland
Running Time: 95 mins
Dredd is an American film about a future dystopian city riddled with crime and violence where the police have the power to execute criminals on the spot, one such policeman and his rookie companion must fight against a formidable criminal gang in a dilapidated tower block to prevent the growing sale of a powerful reality-altering drug.
This is not your average blockbuster affair, and in comparison to the cheesy Sylvester Stallone film from the 90s, this is a seriously gritty, violent and dark crime thriller. With stunning direction and visuals, this is a wonder to behold, but the performances by Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby are convincing and powerful, adding an extra emotional level to what would be expected to be a generic action film.
The main thing that you’ll get from this film is that it’s not for the faint-hearted. It focusses heavily on the darker side of the crime world in this future dystopia instead of the cool sci-fi and gadgetry; this story could have been set at any time, seeing as it’s basically just The Raid crossed with a sci-fi concept.
However, if you can get into the atmosphere of this properly gritty crime thriller, then this is absolutely fantastic to watch, because the violence is realistic and dramatic, and the tension that builds throughout in the quieter sequences turns this into a properly exciting film to watch throughout.
The other strange thing about this that separates from the expected blockbuster image is that it’s quite arty. From Alex Garland, the director of the pretentious Ex Machina, this film utilises its visuals to be powerful, more successfully too. Above all, the sequences showing the effects of this drug are unbelievably beautiful to witness, with amazing slow-mo and enhanced colours to make that psychedelic feel even stronger, something very unique in a film such as this.
What’s more is that the characters in this film have got some real emotion behind them. Whilst Judge Dredd is meant to be a simple law enforcer who sees only black and white, we do see him develop to a significant extent, and, thanks to the great performance by Karl Urban, he becomes more humanised and turns into an intriguing anti-hero
However, Olivia Thirlby, who plays the rookie companion to Dredd, steals the show, bringing genuinely deep emotional power to the story as she shows her character’s internal struggle against this rather brutal crime system due to her psychic abilities that lead her to be more sympathetic to the criminals, and that again heightens the realism and emotion of this story, making it even more engrossing to watch.
Overall, this gets an 8.0, because it’s a blockbuster that bucks the trend of most, using stunning artistic visuals, gritty but powerful violence and human drama to make for a very strong film.