3D re-adaptation of the violent sci-fi comic character first seen in UK comic 2000 AD, set in a post-apocalyptic future where police are given the powers of judge, jury and executioner. Stars Kiwi Karl Urban (Star Trek), Olivia Thirlby (Juno) and Lena Headey (Cersei from TV's Game of Thrones). Playing nationwide October 4. Also playing in 2D.
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.
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.