Grunt grunt grunt grunt dystopian grunt PUNCH!!!...
That, in a nutshell, is Dredd 3D.
The movie tips its hand right from the get go when, after a brief voice-over introduction by the protagonist, the titles engsmsPLODE out of nowhere right in your face as if the movie itself is trying to sock you in the kisser. The fact that it can't actually physically harm you just makes it madder. So it’s just going to keep trying and trying until it runs out of energy and is forced to begrudgingly roll the credits in defeat.
The story concerns a future world where things hit rock-bottom. America is a nuclear wasteland and humanity is clustered into humongous mega-cities. We’re in Mega-City One, an urban conglomerate that covers all the territory between Boston and D.C., and where all the judicial power resides in the hands of the "Judges," a class of law-enforcement officers who police the streets, judge the criminals, and apply the sentencing, which often involves capital punishment.
Two of these judges — Judge Dredd (Karl Urban), a legendary veteran of the force, and Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), a borderline incompetent rookie who only got the badge due to her unprecedented psychic powers; decide to respond to a triple homicide in a 200-story vertical housing project and, after discovering the murders are tied to a local drug lord called Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) they BOOM GADOOJ KABLAAAAAM!!!
Aaaargh… Soooo boring!!! You know what? You want plot, you can read a book. And then maybe you can order some tampons and tu-tus while you’re at it. Otherwise you can just man the hell up and check out these bitchin’ explosions I’m about to show you.
And yes, the explosions are indeed bitchin,’ the action is nonstop and the gore splurges from everywhere. Dredd 3D is an unwavering movie: It knows what it is, and it doesn’t give a damn if you like it or not. And what it is is analogous to a roided-up Viking berserker with ADD bench-pressing a monster truck in one hand and a twelve-headed dragon in the other, as painted by Boris Vallejo. It calls back to the trend of old fascist-cop movies like Die Hard and Bullit, where there are three kinds of people: The folks, the cops, and the punks, and the hard-boiled cop protagonist won’t let the law stand in the way between him and those goddamned punks who prey on the folks. The difference being that, here, the law is tailor-made to accommodate every Dirty Harry’s deepest wishes.
Dredd 3D is a two-hour-long haymaker to the face, and every element in it serves that purpose and that purpose only: The photography, the soundtrack, the acting... Karl Urban, for instance, grunts every line like he resents having to talk in order to communicate his thoughts, since everyone is too stupid to figure out what he wants solely by the wrinkles in his chin. Incidentally, he wrinkles his chin so hard that I think he probably couldn’t smile for a month after shooting. He really does look like he was pulled directly one of Carlos Ezquerra’s or Brian Bolland’s drawings for the original Judge Dredd comic book.
And Olivia Thirlby’s character, who could be the emotional center of the story, is instead a wimpy audience surrogate which the movie takes upon itself to bludgeon into manhood.
The movie is ultimately a little depressing, because, by the end, everything and everyone is just as miserable as when they started, but I guess that’s just the way of a manly man’s life, after all. No time for hope and change; just grunt grunt grunt BOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!
Anyway, I dug it, and you might too, if you like your grunts and booms straight.