Who would have thought such a simple equation would work so beautifully: Judge Dredd – helmet + Rob Schneider = One truly awful movie. I’m of course referring to the god awful 1993 Dredd adaptation starring Sly Stallone and the infamous Mr. Schneider. Where that was a bloated catastrophe, the 2013 version that I will now review is lean, mean, and extremely brutal.
Dredd (the new movie) is based on the classic long-running British comic book 2000 AD which the character Judge Dredd comes from. An attempt was made in the 90s to bring him to the big screen, with disastrous consequences. So how does this new one correct the mistakes made by this? Well obviously keeping your film as far away as possible from Rob Schneider is a good start but what really makes Dredd work is it’s faithfulness to the source material. This is the hyper-violent, bad-ass, take no prisoners, Judge of the comics. He doesn’t smile, he doesn’t cry, and he never, ever takes his helmet off.
The movie also keeps the plot simple. The story is basically a day in the life of Dredd and this helps introduced the near future, crime ridden, setting with law enforcement carried out by a group known as Judges. They’re basically cops with the ability to judge and carry out sentencing on criminals. From this jumping off point we see Judge Dredd and new recruit Judge Anderson having to fight their way through a huge tower block run by the infamous Mama clan. What comes next is over an hour of tightly choreographed violent action with all the fat trimmed off. It isn’t bogged down with emotion, politics, back story, or any of the tropes of modern action films. It’s good guys vs bad guys, nothing more, nothing less and it’s a refreshing change from the conflicted action heroes we usually see. Dredd sees the world in black and white, good and bad. Good guys get a pass, bad guys get a bullet.
What makes the film great though is also confusingly what stops it being a classic. It’s extremely simplistic with nothing truly original to elevate it to greatness. The action isn’t as inventive as something like The Raid, and the blood effects when people are shot (this happens a lot!) are obviously çomputer generated. Maybe I’m old fashioned but I like my blood to come from food colouring dyed liquid in a condom (this is honestly how it’s done, it’s not some weird fetish I have).
Go watch Dredd now if you even have a passing interest in violent action movies. Hell, just watch it to get the taste of Stallone’s Judge Dredd out of your mouth. And tell your friends about it because right now it didn’t do enough business to warrant a sequel. I really want a sequel, let’s make it happen people!