Dredd 3D (2012)

Imagine if it was this guy beating Rodney King.

The story takes place in a violent, futuristic city named Mega City One where the police have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner, a cop named Dredd (Karl Urban) teams with a trainee (Olivia Thirlby) to take down a gang that deals the reality-altering drug, SLO-MO (lead by Lena Headey).

Maybe I’m alone on this boat but I have never ever seen the 1995 Sylvester Stallone original, so I went into this flick with a pretty open-mind, expecting good, bloody things, even if the trailer didn’t do much for me. Now that I’ve seen this, I don’t even think I need to bother with the original. Sorry Sly! I gave you all of my money a month ago!

Another reason besides the trailer, as to why this film didn’t do much for me was because it’s directed byย Pete Travis, aka the dude who did the political Groundhog Day, Vantage Point a couple of years back and we all know how that crap turned out. However, the guy actually brings out a certain type of fun, but controlled energy that it seems like this source material needed in the first-place. Since this is an R-rated action flick, you can expect all sorts of action, violence, blood, and guts shooting at the screen, (in fine 3D, may I add) but this time is used with a grittier edge. Actually, a very grittier edge as I don’t think I have ever really felt the need to take a shower from watching a movie in awhile but it adds to the whole look and feel of this flick.

You also can’t help but love how Travis seems like he knows his audience this time around and doesn’t ever seem to alienate them by giving them a cheesy subplot to flesh these characters out, or give them any heartfelt emotional breakthrough that doesn’t seemed deserved. No, the guy sticks straight to the violence and blood, and actually lets loose a couple of funny, but dead-pan one-liners hit you when you least expect it. Sometimes I even missed it because everybody in the theater that I was at with just started howling and I don’t know what happened there. As for all of the political themes that apparently translates from the comics themselves, I couldn’t really find much but you can tell that a lot of this talks about the world we may be fore-seeing due to high-levels of violence and crime running rampant throughout the streets. It’s pretty obvious, but not as heavy-handed as most movies, let alone action ones, that use the same premise and idea.

Where I think that this film sort of screwed itself up with was how the action never really came full-force for me. Yeah, there’s a bunch of cool scenes where people are getting their heads blown-up to pieces and a couple of sweet slo-mo scenes that look even cooler when somebody’s getting shot, but it all happens in a spread-apart fashion that sort of takes away the intensity that this film could have really had. It’s not a slow movie by any means, it just doesn’t really pick up the full head of steam that you thought it would and ends up being a film that follows the pattern of “short burst of action, follow plot. short burst of action, follow plot.” This goes on the whole film and even though I was never bored with it, I couldn’t help but wish they added more action to the mix.

Also, where the hell was that final, big shoot-out? Now, I’m no full-on lover of action movies but when I see an action movie that has such promise between two opposing forces like this one here, you think there’d be some final show-down where both go at it like no other. We do sort of get that, but it happens in a way that’s a bit anti-climactic to the point of where I was reminded of the last showdown in Gangs of New York, where there is all this set-up, all of this hype, and all of this suspense, and it ends up just doing nothing, really.

Despite the action, the plot also could have been a bit more wild and crazy, but also a bit more believable in it’s strange way. The reason I say this is because you’d think with all of the people that are going after Dredd and the rookie, that they would have a hell of a lot harder time getting to the top and killing Ma-Ma, but that’s not really the case. Somehow, someway, without giving too much away, they get to where they need to go pretty easily and it sort of ties into the whole action-element of this flick to where I felt like they really needed to give it an extra-dosage of extreme and wild action to make it all the more exciting. Still, this is a bit of nit-pick if I must say.

It was reported that Karl Urban had been wanting to play this character for the longest time, and 9 times out of 10, that usually means it’s going to be a passion project, by a certain star, that nobody else really shares the same passion with. That 1 time out of 10 is actually what we have here as Urban seems to have a lot of fun playing the straight-laced, vicious, dead-pan hero, Judge Dredd. Granted, Urban isn’t doing anything other than killing people, making serious one-liners, and talking with the same growl that Clint Eastwood had back in his glory days, but he owns it and makes this character a pretty kick-ass one that makes you know when he shows up, shit’s going to get fucked up for sure. It also helps that the costume is really, really cool.

Olivia Thirlby seemed like a strange choice to have in an action film, but she actually does a good job with it because I think that is her whole act here. She isn’t a sadistic and violent mofo like Dredd, instead, she’s a lot more compassionate towards her victims and likes to think about what’s right and what’s wrong with certain people and situations, which causes her and Dredd to actually create a cool chemistry. It was also cool to see this action flick have a chick as the villain here andย Lena Headey does a marvelous job at playing the villain, a drug-lord named Ma-Ma, who is just as sadistic and violent as Dredd but instead, is on the opposite side of the law. Headey is good here because she doesn’t over-play the role and is a lot more subtle with it, using her scarred-look to convey some sick and evil ideas that could possibly be on her mind. Nothing spectacular, but at least it wasn’t over-the-top crazy like I was expecting from her, no offense ladies. Also, it was great to see Wood Harris have some juicy screen-time as one of Ma-Ma’s right-hand man that seems to be having a lot of fun with this material, as well. Been awhile since I’ve seen that guy in a prominent role and I’m glad to see him in one here.

Consensus: Though it doesn’t fully satisfy in terms of action, Dredd 3D is still a fun, bloody, and R-rated piece of entertainment that benefits from a gritty look and good performances from a strange, but well-cast group of stars.



  1. this film has been carbon copied with The Raid with a futuristic premise of course. It seems that everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon to keep franchises alive may it be personal or for the company’s own interest it does still give levity on money making at least throw in some decent screenplay and put a little back into it. Nice review man!

  2. Very much agree with your review. It was fine. But it wasn’t anything to write home about. Like you, I was missing the big ol’ gun fight too. There was no crescendo in this film.

    What I did really love was the soundtrack. It brought things together for me and it’s up there as one of my faves of the year.

  3. Fun review Dan – and you’ve touched upon some relevant points. I wouldn’t really encourage you to go and watch the previous film, especially if you’re not a Sly fan…or an action fan!

    BUT this film made me angry, because unlike Total Recall, this one went all out to give you a ‘new’ story, rather than remake the previous one – and the new story is a terrible copy of Indonesian film The Raid, which had mind-blowing action (exactly what you felt was missing in this film). That film was about weapons and hand-to-hand, a crazy evil boss controlling a tower block from one floor and non-stop violence. It was in one word, WOW. This one felt like a YAWN and GRRRR.

    Sorry to do a plug, but this is more for you than for your audience. Read this, if interested: http://whosranting.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/raid-2011.html

  4. I’ll be repetitive as I’ve said this in Tim’s blog- this was a fun action flick that delivers what it said it would. Dan you gave it. 7.5 that shoukd more like a see it in the cinema at least on a discount night. I thought the 3D was well done enhancing the story. I almoat coughed from the smoke drifting out to me. Seeing Looper on Monday.

  5. Good review, I saw this in Galway Ireland and was pleasantly surprised at what I saw. I’d say that the chemistry between Thirlby and Urban was a highlite of the movie for me, but I was also a fan of the one-man-swat-team style action sequences. I also didn’t even think about the lack of a final shootout, but now you mention it I guess it was basically absent. In any case, hitting your peak early might be a downer in the bedroom but I never thought it was too much of a death sentance for a movie so it didn’t bother me that much, lol.

    In any case I gave this the same score as you, though I’d might recommend it for a matinee at least rather than a rental ๐Ÿ™‚

    • A rental is what does it for me but a trip to the theaters wouldn’t kill either. It’s just not the action-packed, thrill-ride action junkies may be expecting. Thanks!

  6. Good Review! I am glad you enjoyed it. Shame they didn’t have more money to come up with a better plot (The Raid rip-off). I enjoyed it a lot tho, I hope they will do a sequel.

  7. great write up, Dan! I can’t wait to see this. I love Urban. despite it being a bit skimpy on visuals and gunplay it still looks decent. thanks!

  8. Yeah, you’re right Dan. Your “Complaint Paragraphs” ๐Ÿ˜€ About the pacing not being too rapid fire, and the lack of the final shootout were spot on.

    I think the tone and the characters win the day here for me though. I definitely enjoyed it. You’re right, the two judges did have a good checmistry together. Good review! I concur!

    • The characters and entertainment won me over for this flick, but the lack of action not really connecting is what bothered me the most. Could have been non-stop but just took it’s time too much. Thanks my man! You know me too well.

  9. Great review, Dan. I’d say Dredd is matinee-worthy, but wouldn’t pay full price to see it. The acting was good, the plot moved along, but I thought the set-dressing and world-building was lazy.

  10. I did see the original. It tried the cartoonish and comical approach. This one was far superior. Like you, I went in with no expectations though, and I was pleasantly surprised. A straight-forward, no nonsense sci-fi action movie. I was entertained from start to finish, and I hope there is a sequel. Otherwise, it will stand alone as a solid film.

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