It’s possible to make a good film from mediocre material, but it’s an uphill battle. Alex Garland’s script for this return to Mega City One is lazy and derivative: the characters are slight and the twists unconvincing, while a presumably accidental but highly conspicuous similarity to the plot of this year’s ‘The Raid’ robs it of any sense of surprise. So respect is due to director Pete Travis, who from these humble beginnings has fashioned a dynamic, entertaining and visually sensational action romp.
Karl Urban plays Judge Dredd, a fascistic future cop with the right to try and execute wrongdoers on the spot. When he discovers that scarred supervillain Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) is responsible for the production of a deadly new narcotic, Slo-Mo, Dredd tools up and goes hunting. The film has clearly been made on a tighter budget than your average Hollywood shoot-’em-up, but Travis makes the most of limited resources: the industrial backdrops are stunning, the action scenes sizzle and the eye-of-the-addict Slo-Mo sequences are sickeningly beautiful. A shame, then, that the script consistently falls so flat.