Director: Pete Travis
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
As is often the case with futuristic thrillers, America is a wasteland, with 800 million people living in the walled off Mega-City One. Only the Judges, who are in fact judge, jury and executioner rolled into one neat package, keep any sense of order. The most feared of these would appear to be Dredd (Karl Urban, never unmasked), although any introduction or backstory is dispensed with, and we should just take it as read that he’s the baddest of the bad-asses. But they're losing control of the city, and on the same day Dredd takes on rookie Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), who happens to be psychic, a talent that comes in handy during their day, they find themselves trapped in a 200-floor tower block controlled by vicious gang leader Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). With the building locked down and Ma-Ma telling the residents she wants the Judges dead, the film takes on the mantle of The Raid from a few months ago, as Dredd and Anderson make their way up through the levels, eviscerating goons at every turn. Amid the slaughter, it’s smart enough to pause for a moment to consider the moralities and consequences of a system that endorses this savage avenger, this Dirty Harry in a Robocop mask, before barrelling ahead anyway with the massacre. As an action blast it ticks most boxes; justice is swift, merciless and bloody, and the impact of this is often troublingly satisfying. It looks absolutely glorious, and Ma-Ma has unleashed a new drug called Slo-mo, the effects of which give rise to a few visually stunning, super stylised slow motion sequences, as blood and bits fly everywhere. But it’s single-minded to a degree that can occasionally become repetitive and tedious, and though there’s enough style and zip to banish memories of the widely derided Stallone version from 1995, it’s just a shame The Raid has already set the bar so high for this sort of thing.