BluRay Review: DREDD

Dredd x3

by Hedge, who is the law.

Writer: Alex Garland

Director: Pete Travis

Starring: Karl Urban, Lena Heady, Olivia Thirlby, Wood Harris

I came to the DREDD party pretty late. By the time I had seen it, it was already almost gone from cinemas – not because I wasn’t interested, I’d been interested since the first preview teaser, but because I don’t watch broadcast television and had no idea it had been released.

Dredd x1

So despite seeing it twice in theatres and buying it on BluRay immediately as it was released, I feel like I’m one of the people who’s fault it is the movie didn’t do better in the cinema. Which is a shame because I really, really dug Dredd. Like really. It was fucking glorious. Well written, well acted, Lena Heady makes for a brilliant drug baroness, and Urban is such a great Judge Dredd you will forget all about that shitty Stallone film NOBODY EVER MADE!

As a result, I never reviewed Dredd the first time round, but I can fix that now. If you like enjoyment, and have eyes, go buy Dredd on BluRay. For serious.

This is The Raid. The whole movie is like this.

This is The Raid. The whole movie is like this.

For those of you who are fans of Eastern cinema, you may recall a little flick called The Raid: Redemption that was released last year. In it, a hardcore Indonesian cop must fight his way skyward through an apartment block of enemies to arrest a local drug lord. As said drug lord locks down the building he tells all of his tenants that anybody who helps them take down the police can live under his protection forever. A pretty sweet deal that gets a lot of interest.

I mention this because Dredd has, and I kid you not, the exact same plot transposed into the science fiction setting of Mega City One. Karl Urban’s Dredd, and his rookie Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) are called to a disturbance. It should be a pretty easy job, designed as such so Anderson can flex her muscles and Dredd can determine if she has what it takes to pass her training. When they arrive though, there is more to the story than meets the eye.

Dredd decides further action is needed.

That’s when Heady’s villainous Ma-Ma locks down the building and sends her many henchmen down to kill the Judges.

Cue awesome wrapped in spectacular. There are gunfights aplenty, gore like a motherfucker, and a brilliant use of slow-motion in the form of the drug slow-mo, a narcotic that slows down the passage of time for the user making bathtime incredibly pretty. The soundtrack is excellent, featuring a grinding bass theme that echoes through the album. Yes I bought it. On my phone. As we were leaving the cinema so I could listen to it in the car.

Note: The song from the Judges’ first encounter with the drug den in the film is ‘Poison Lips’ by Vitalic. It’s the only song in the film not included on the album. I’m not sure why. It’s available though as an independent download on iTunes.

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The movie is a non-stop festival of action but never feels, to me at least, gratuitous. Well that’s a lie, it’s totally gratuitous, but that itself never feels out of place. When we watch a bullet rip through a man’s face in slow motion, it’s because he’s on the drug and that’s what he is experiencing. It’s never a pointless exercise, although it could easily be seen that way at first glance. With a deeper look, you can find a thoughtful exposé on the effects drug use has on the lives of the user. This is your brain on heroin, folks and it’s a slow ride down a megatower’s central shaft.

But really, who goes to Dredd needing, or wanting, subtext? Sure Garland has included these little moments of clarity in an otherwise balls-out flick but can you enjoy it without caring? Heck yes.

Personally, I have no faults with Dredd. It’s fun, it’s clever, it’s packed with action and it never lost my interest. As statred earlier, I saw it twice in the cinema and now I’ve bought it and it’s playing right now, as I watch this. The casting is superb, with Urban playing an excellent Dredd and Heady being as perfect as Ma-Ma as she is as Cersei Lannister.

It’s available on BluRay now (the US actually got it a month ago, but we Aussies had to wait because Australia) and you should definitely go pick it up.

Shut up, that’s why.

Also The Raid: Redemption. Also because shut up.

You can harass the author on Twitter @CAricHanley