Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Under 250: Dredd

As mindless action movies go, this is one worth watching.  Coming in at a blissfully brief 95-minutes, Dredd is an agile, brutally violent, and quippy shoot 'em up that kills 'em all and invents the perfect framework for its relatively pointless standard operating procedure.  Based on the comic book but separated from the 1995 Stallone film, Dredd lays out a dystopian world where justice is wrought by helmeted, corrupt 'judges' who (as the line goes) serve as judge, jury, and executioner in one frightful package.  Karl Urban ("Bones" in the Abrams Star Trek) is unrecognizable and forever obscured as the title character, a judge with zero backstory and seemingly no interest in anything other than taking out thugs and delivering a heaping helping of one-liners.  If you need character development to propel you through gunfight after gunfight, you've got the wrong film, but Dredd manages a touch of pathos in establishing Dredd's buddy-cop partnership with a psychic female rookie named Anderson (Olivia Thirlby).  Together, they've found themselves in a nightmare scenario straight out of a video game.  They've got to go into a slummy high-rise and battle level after level to reach the boss: a sadistic drug lord (Lannister family matriarch Lena Headey) dealing a dangerous drug called Slo-Mo.  Put the pieces together and you have a manic logic that allows, without argument, reasons for extreme violence, rapid edits, pulsing music, and sparkling, elaborate slow-motion sequences.  Hands down the most glittery action flick around.

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