‘Dredd’ is exactly how you’re supposed to do cyberpunk

by Ben

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This is precisely the way cyberpunk is supposed to be done. Flashy, colorful visuals, pounding, bass-heavyf soundtrack, grimy sound effects, buckets of blood, drugs, filth, megacities, post-apocalyptic ambience: it’s all here. Dredd is about the slush and the smut and it comes across with a massive bang. In fact, I’d say it’s the loudest, most in-your-face film I’ve seen in years, and it might just be my favorite overall picture in as long. And that’s saying something.

I’ve never read the source material comics, but judging from (pun intended) the original effort with Stallone (one of my favs of all time), I’d say it’s supposed to be about the camp, about a crumbled society solely reliant on an ever-threatful force to keep the megacities in-line. In fact, I’m certain my characterization of Dredd as cyberpunk would draw criticism of its own. But speaking as a massive fan of the genre, I’d say this film fits precisely with the classic guidelines of the style.

Dredd is about its titular character in the company of a rookie, Judge Anderson as they respond to a triple homicide in the Peach Trees megatower, home to around 75,000 destitute and poor. They arrive to investigate and are drawn into the sights of Ma-Ma, supreme crime governess of the tower and aspiring drug kingpin of the entire city. What ensues can only be described as a bloodbath.

I must give special mention to both sound engineering and Paul Leonard-Morgan’s superb soundtrack. I’ve got some brand new bass-clear headphones, and I was almost blasted out of my head by the constant pounding beat and the low, head-scissoring blasts of the gunfire. I haven’t heard a comparable outing since The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and to be fair, both are similar in a good way. Where Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor went the path of the surreal, Leonard-Morgan steers the film to the land of the gritty and the grungy. And it fucking works in a huge way.

There’s little to mention about the acting or the plot. If you’ve ever had the distinct pleasure to see The Raid: Redemption you know what Dredd is all about: a set arena, a badass (in this case, two), and a shitload of bodies. Karl Urban never takes off his helmet, but it’s surprising how much conviction can be portrayed by his mouth and voice. Olivia Thrilby does an above-average job at playing the rookie, but really the best performance lies with Lena Headey, who plays Ma-Ma. Honestly, however, if you’re here for the acting, you probably won’t have a great time.

Dredd is colorful as well. Much like G.I. Joe did a few years ago, the use of color here serves to emphasize just how bitter the created universe truly is. Highlights, accent marks, and sparkly neon all dredge up the cinematography from the scuzzy, colorless, and bland surroundings. I can only imagine how brilliant it would have looked in its native 3D. I suppose I’ll have to wait and find out when 3D monitors lower themselves into my price range.

Dredd is a complete action picture. Little is lacking in both execution and payout. It’s a real shame to know the film didn’t make back its budget at the box office, so we probably won’t see a sequel. But there’s a reason this one’s got a 7.2 on IMDB; it’s really that fucking good. Do yourself a favor: jack in the stereo, hit the lights, and have a great time.

Conclusion: Superb representation of grime film. 5.0/5.0

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