Judge Dredd is a mix of Soylent Green, Robocop, Escape from New York, and Assault on Precinct 1 – minus the scripts. A nuclear, environmental disaster has reduced American society to one massive city, spanning from Boston to D.C. Crime is rampant and police officers act as juries and executioners at the point of arrest, if warranted. Judge Dredd (a wasted Karl Urban, who played McCoy in Star Trek) and his new rookie partner (Olivia Thirlby), are called to a triple homicide in a massive skyscraper, public housing structure run by ex-prostitute turned drug dealer mogul (Lena Headey, the villainous Queen Cirse in “Game of Thrones”).
Her newest narcotic is slo mo, taken via inhaler, and it alters time for the user. Better, for the director, we get to see bullets slowly enter and exit flesh through the eyes of the drug users. Pretty cool.
I presume this picture is derived from a comic book or graphic novel and that the producers figured 90 percent of the audience would have some idea of the backstory or would not care. So, we learn nothing of Dredd (though human, he is less expressive and fleshed out than Peter Weller’s Robocop or even Schwarzenegger’s Terminator). Heady is cruel (she skins rivals and slaughters innocent bystanders). The partner lost her parents to nuclear-related cancer and she is nervous, this being her first day on the job. This is dystopia Okay. No chit chat. Let’s start shooting everything up.
Other than a brisk pace, nifty action, Avon Barksdale from”The Wire” (Wood Harris) and a few snappy lines, there’s not a lot to this movie, but it’s a worthy shoot ’em up.