Saturday, 29 December 2012

Dredd, dir. Pete Travis, wr. Alex Garland, st. Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Wood Harris, Lena Headey

Not quite the Judge DRaid clone it was feared to be from the initial trailer, British director Travis nevertheless roots this Lone Outmatched Warrior fable in a singular environment, bringing all the focus to bear on the titular inexcitable Judge - one of many law enforcers who roam the vast dystopian Mega-City One and mete out the appropriate arbitration and suitable punishment on unsuspecting criminals before you can say "due-process." Dredd and rookie Cassandra Anderson (Thirlby) are sent to the Peach Trees slum towerblock - a kind of post-apocalyptic Westfields - run by Madeline "Ma-Ma" Madrigal (Heady) who's peddling a drug that once inhaled, makes time run at 1% its usual speed: good for music-video aesthetics, bad for falling to your death from the 200th floor. There's a healthy dose of Verhoeven-esque late-80s violence on display here, and Paul Leonard-Morgan's dubsteppy score and Anthony Dod Mantle's cinematography capture the apartment setting in all its squalid griminess. Urban is fine as Dredd as far as chin-gurning goes, but Thirlby fares better as the stoic apprentice with handy telepathic powers. It's just a shame that Heady - a dab hand at playing unstable über-bitches as demonstrated in HBO's compelling Game of Thrones - isn't given more to do than mutter under her breath and appear for the all-too-brief boss fight at the end. It's also puzzling how the rest of Mega-City One, when we do see it, seems to be a sunny and rather pleasant place to reside, but I fear such curiosities are secondary to watching Ma-Ma's goons use gatling guns fuck shit up.