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Released: 2012

Directed By: Pete Travis

Starring: Karl Urban, Lena Headey

Certificate: 18

Reviewed By: Darryl Griffiths

Plagued by the bitter aftertaste left by the 1995 version headed up Sly Stallone which failed to set the world alight, there has been much reluctance to reinvigorate the beloved 2000AD character for the hardcore fans. With the comics bearing a distinctly dark tone and a tag of ‘Judge, Jury and Executioner’, it was always going to take a brave soul to helm a reboot which would steer clear of the big budget and studio influenced approach of its genre counterparts. Step forward director Pete Travis..

Rising star Karl Urban is Judge Dredd, the leading light amongst a select group of many rough and ready cops protecting and serving the inhabitants of Mega City One. Depicted as a futuristic but decadent American wasteland , the city is swarmed by the committing of widespread acts of violence.

Dredd reluctantly is enlisted the help of a female novice Cassandra played by Olivia Thirlby, who is undergoing an assessment. Blessed with psychic abilities, they are soon drawn into an imposing tower block nicknamed ‘Peach Trees’. Overflowing with villainous cronies who are under the command of scarfaced psychopath Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), it becomes apparent she is the root cause of a new drug craze called Slo-Mo sweeping the landscape. Imprisoned, Dredd and Cassandra must prove their mettle in order to survive the imminent onslaught..

With such a modest budget at his disposal, Travis has worked wonders with the visuals. From the aerial shots of Mega City One, to the occasionally disorientating albeit brilliant use of slow motion, the director deeply saturates the screen creating a striking world brimming with detail. He certainly doesn’t skimper on the violence either. Fully justifying its ’18’ certificate, the film’s relentless and inventive action drives home the remorseless nature of the setting.

Projecting a solid performance when a crucial facial feature is sealed off is always a tall order. However, Urban’s interpretation of Dredd is spot-on. Tongue in cheek nods to his distinct lack of ‘personality’ whilst being a grovelling and thoroughly convincing bad-ass, he single handedly eradicates any bad memories of Stallone’s attempt. Refusing to let the side down, Thirlby’s novice almost steals the film from Urban with a thoroughly convincing turn and whilst Headey’s villain is inescapably one-dimensional, she proves to be a credible threat.

The cynics will suggest ‘plagarism’ with the premise bearing an uncanny resemblance to Gareth Evans’ fist flying masterclass ‘The Raid’ from earlier this year. However, this aspect (production starting on Dredd beforehand) shouldn’t deter the faithful.

Proving to be a refreshingly grounded alternative to the more brash and family friendly genre entries.. On the count of being an uncompromising adrenaline rush of a cinematic experience, Dredd is guilty as charged!

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