Judge Dredd and his rookie partner trace a new drug to the apartment complex where it's being manufactured and distributed. It's not long before the building is locked down from the inside, leaving them to fend for themselves in a kill or be killed race against time.
The tale of Judge Dredd is a sad one, despite the fact that it shouldn't be. I loved the campy Stallone version, but DREDD was one reboot I was seriously looking forward to. The lore is there, the character is fantastic and the action looked beyond promising...so what the hell happened? Why did this flick underperform? Was it the R rating, poor timing or simply LIONSGATE's inability to properly showcase a film? Who can know for sure, but here's my two cents:
From a character standpoint, Karl Urban blew this out of the water as Judge Dredd. He had the look, the mannerisms, the attitude and the ass kicking ability to boot. Even some of the cheesier lines were well executed, though I'll admit the writing here was pretty damn tight. I also loved the fact that Urban didn't take off his helmet. Not once. And that's a good thing as too often Hollywood likes to throw in all these scenes where masked characters are unmasked, like we've forgotten it's Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield playing Spider-Man, or in case we forgot it's Robert Downey Jr. playing Iron Man. We get it guys, enough already. It's about the character, not the actor playing them. So yes, that was a notable plus.
The action was nothing short of spectacular as well. DREDD was R and for good reason as he ripped baddies a new a-hole left, right and center. The violence wasn't overdone either and in my humble opinion fit the bill rather nicely. The Slo-Mo drug was the coolest "new drug gimmick" since Nuke and True Blood, so hat's off the team for that as well. The story here was alright, and even though Dredd and his smokin' rookie partner (loved the psychic avenue as well) were confined to a building all film--due to budget restrictions I hear--it worked well enough to keep me satisfied. The always splendid Lena Heady's "Ma-Ma" was a touch weak and underused in the villain department, but it's a small complaint.
DREDD tanked at the box office and I'm pissed because it shouldn't have. This was everything fans of the genre and character begged for. Of course, that said, why their asses weren't in the theater is still somewhat of a mystery. Now I say somewhat because LIONSGATE shouldn't have lobbed this flick out there as a summer movie. What they should have done was launch it as a January/February release instead (case in point, the abysmal TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D made over twenty million in its opening three days this month and got green-lit for another installment). Sigh. Of course in retrospect, THE LAST STAND only took in six million this week, so it's not entirely certain DREDD would have done any better. I personally think it would have, but I guess we'll never know.