It’s frustrating watching someone play a videogame and all you want to do is take the controller and rectify their mistakes. A similar experience waits with Dredd with its arcade mechanics imploring you to play along but you’re forced to sit back and watch wishing there was more engagement. Set in a bleak future where crime is rampant, the law in enforced by a police force known as “Judges”. Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is assigned to evaluate the performance of rookie Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) and on a routine day on the job they find themselves in the den of the city’s biggest crime bosses.
Director Pete Travis delivers graphic violence and a few slick visual tweaks such as the slow motion effects used to demonstrate the effects of a popular narcotic used by the baddies in the film. Early on it helps to establish the gritty Dredd universe but it gets tiring quickly.
Once the action of the main plot kicks in, it never escalates to a level as extreme as the situation should allow it, and instead it goes: hallway stalking, point and shoot, and repeat. It comes back to the videogame rulebook the film plays by and Dredd may be the most expensive gaming cut scene ever made.
The plot has shades of the arcade classic ‘Donkey Kong’ with the main characters making their way to the top of a tower while dodging the obstacles shaped as bullets along the way. The dialogue is terrible with most of the characters spitting exposition or pointing out the obvious.
The score by Paul Leonard-Morgan is a saving grace and it pulses with urban beats and futuristic flourishes to deliver bounds of energy to the set pieces.
Dredd is an improvement over the Sylvester Stallone film from 1995 but a hamster wearing a giant helmet would be an improvement over that effort. Dredd is all gunplay and no guts … unless you count the brain matter smeared across most of the film.
Cameron Williams - follow Cam on Twitter here: @popcornjunkies