Extinguishing any residual memories of Sylvester Stallone and Rob Schneider's 1995 foray into Mega-City One within moments, the new Dredd is a down-and-dirty hardcore action fest with style and thrills to burn. More
As Judge Dredd, Kiwi Karl Urban distills a leading man performance down to its most essential elements and projects them through his permanently - and appropriately - downturned mouth. His commanding physicality also adds to the character. An actor without the use of his eyes can be a muted thing indeed (see: Jemaine Clement in Men In Black III), but Urban gets his point across with gusto.
While the presence of Olivia Thirlby's rookie Judge Anderson provides the film's central Training Day-like character dynamic, this is more concerned with being a straight-up action movie than delving into Dredd's head. Lena Headey's scarred-up villain Ma-Ma is suitably detestable, and Wood Harris (The Wire) adds something as a low-level criminal.
An independent production, it's clear Dredd doesn't have a Michael Bay-sized budget, but the scope never feels compromised, and the future world it establishes feels lived-in. Any accusations of 'smallness' are instantly offset by the film's razor-sharp focus and distinctly non-studio-like brutality.
Indeed, a nice sense of Paul Verhoeven-esque over-the-top-ness permeates the proceedings here, with a little hint of the Dutch madman's satirical leanings sneaking in too.
Dredd benefits greatly from not trying to be all things to all people - it's tailor-made for fans of old school brutal action who are under-served by today's blockbuster landscape.
And the whole enterprise rests ably on Urban's broad shoulders. Local boy done good. Local boy done real good. Hide