From the get-go, you know this movie is full of action when Dredd chased after and shoot dead 3 criminals in a bloody and exciting chase through the streets of Mega-City One. It set the tone for the whole movie.
Immediately after the shootout, Dredd is tasked with evaluating rookie Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), a psychic mutant who just failed her Judge test. Investigating a triple homicide in a 200-story slum tower block called Peach Trees, the duo learn of a drug den (one of several within the block), and assaulted it. They arrested a criminal named Kay, who Anderson psychically detects has some involvement in the murders.
Unable to them, Kay is also one of the top man in the Ma-Ma gang. Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) is the resident drug lord of Peach Trees and to prevent Kay being removed from the building, Ma-Ma ordered her forces to shut down the block and the death of Dredd and Anderson. From there on, it’s one shootout after another as the duo tried to survive to the top of the block where Ma-Ma has her residence.
First off, forgot everything about the crap that was Sly Stallone’s Judge Dredd! Yes, that movie is also a science fiction action film based on the 2000 AD comic strip Judge Dredd just like this one but that’s all the similarity they have.
Dredd is a blood-soaked action-packed movie that is miles better than the original. For one, the guys making the blood for this movie made a killing. Blood flow freely in this movie and it has been quite some time since we saw a movie that is so unabashedly bloody.
Dredd remains faithful to the comic. Judge Dredd's face, except for his mouth, is never shown in the movie! In the comics, Judge Dredd never takes his helmet off because he is the faceless, ruthless, and merciless face of the law and I am glad they kept that. It just wouldn’t be Judge Dredd if we can see his face.
Also I love the fact that they were honest about the fear citizens has of the Judges. In the comics, ordinary citizens are as fearful of the Judges as they are of the criminals. And this movie is not afraid to show you why. It’s not just the matter of corrupt Judges, even upright Judges like Dredd are feared as they hold the power of life and death over everyone.
Of course there are a few things that could have work better. I read that this is the first movie directed by Pete Travis and in some ways it showed. The main story of the movie is about “Slo-Mo”, an addictive new drug that slows down the user's perception of time to 1% of normal. Pete Travis used this as a way to have a lot (and I mean a lot) of slow motion shootout. It was great the first few times, but after the sixth or seventh…
Also we were never told why the Judges were so intend to stop “Slo-Mo”. Yes it’s an illegal drug but that seems a strange reason for all the bodies.
Still, these are minor points. Pete Travis did a good job bringing the city to life and he fearlessly showed the Judges’ merciless duties. Compared to the Sly Stallone’s flick, Dredd is a breath of true Mega-City air.