How does a budget-limited production get around the expense of creating a massive post-apocalyptic city? One method is to restrict a film set in that city primarily to the interior of one massive apartment building. And in Dredd, Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby play two law enforcers — agents with a mandate to act as judge, jury and executioner in this hellish city of the future — who lead a team into an apartment block controlled by a drug-dealing criminal (Lena Headey). Hey, does that sound a bit familiar?
It’s too bad for all involved that Dredd didn’t hit a year ago, because then it would be able to avoid many inevitable comparisons to The Raid. Dredd went into production long before The Raid was released, so this is no copycat situation. This story is a setup that works very well in the framework of decades of Judge Dredd comics that inspired this movie. But if you’ve seen Gareth Evans’ film, it might be difficult to avoid the comparison while watching the Dredd trailer below.
Urban manages to embody Judge Dredd’s trademark characteristics with as much aplomb as anyone is likely to muster, and even delivers the signature line “I am the law” in a way that makes it sound legit. But Dredd does look like it had to leave a lot of the signature weirdness of Mega-City One behind in favor of simple grim poverty and despair. Maybe that works in context.
And while Olivia Thirlby is great in general, she always seemed like a strange casting choice for this role, and this trailer makes her look like she’s going to struggle to be at home with the material.
Dredd hits on September 21. [Total Film]
The future America is an irradiated waste land. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies Mega City One- a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the urban cops called “Judges” who possess the combined powers of judge, jury and instant executioner. Known and feared throughout the city, Dredd (Karl Urban) is the ultimate Judge, challenged with ridding the city of its latest scourge – a dangerous drug epidemic that has users of “Slo-Mo” experiencing reality at a fraction of its normal speed.
During a routine day on the job, Dredd is assigned to train and evaluate Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), a rookie with powerful psychic abilities thanks to a genetic mutation. A heinous crime calls them to a neighborhood where fellow Judges rarely dare to venture- a 200 story vertical slum controlled by prostitute turned drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) and her ruthless clan. When they capture one of the clan’s inner circle, Ma-Ma overtakes the compound’s control center and wages a dirty, vicious war against the Judges that proves she will stop at nothing to protect her empire. With the body count climbing and no way out, Dredd and Anderson must confront the odds and engage in the relentless battle for their survival.