Thursday, October 18, 2012

DREDD: Why didn't any of you go see this film?

DREDD............It was violent.  It was unapologetically rated R.  It was smart so of course that means it bombs big time at the box office.  You know what that means?  Some movie studio big shots are going to say, "R rated action movies are out and PG-13 is back in.  Somebody call Len Wiseman and tell him to direct all the DIE HARDS from now on."  Dang it, people!  This was a movie that needed our support.  It did everything just about right.  DREDD is a unique movie for this day and age.  To me at least it was a special movie going experience.  Oddly enough it was what the movie didn't do that made it so special.

Dredd and a new rookie police trainee are locked inside a large 200 story apartment building which is basically a small city by a highly organized gang run by a woman named Ma-Ma.  With no way out the two ascend to the top floor to take down the gang leader and bring her to justice.  Yea, its kind of similar to THE RAID.  And like THE RAID, DREDD keeps the story and character back grounds simple.  That is very important.  DREDD spends little time explaining who Dredd is.  He is a cop that judges bad guys and that is all you need to know.  We don't have that scene where he is in his crummy apartment waking up from an all night bender getting a call from his partner to get up after being asleep all day.  We don't see him stumble about his broken down kitchen grabbing any left over food he can find including left over pizza that fell on the floor and then putting it in a blender and drinking it like a real man.  We don't see pictures of his dead/divorced wife and his son/daughter who is dead/not-talking-to-him-anymore.  We get none of that stereotype stuff here.  Dredd is left as a mystery.  Only by the actions he takes throughout the film do we know what kind of person he really is.

There is no back story connection between Dredd and the main bad guy, Ma-Ma.  She didn't murder his family back when he was a kid guiding his path of vengeance to join the police force.  She isn't his cloned evil sister.  Ma-Ma knows nothing about Dredd.  She isn't even trying to kill him in the movie.  She wants the guy he arrests dead because of what information he may have regarding Ma-Ma's drug operation. 

The story itself doesn't involve saving the world or anything.  By the end when all is said and done you are left with the realization that what we just saw was just another day on the job for Dredd.  He doesn't take his helmet off smiling and saying something stupid about needing a vacation.  Nope he just goes back to work.  There is a stop the bomb from exploding element at the end but it doesn't involve destroying the whole city like every other comic book movie out there.

Not everyone knows who Dredd is.  He isn't widely feared by the local crime bosses.  No one shivers at the mention of his name.  To them he is just another cop.  But after unloading millions of rounds from two or three mini-guns into a city block just to kill him and he emerges from the burning wreckage just to throw your #2 man off the balcany and then just walks away like its no big deal disappearing into the smoke like a large briefly glimpsed Sasquatch they start getting the idea that they are dealing with some kind of super badass cop.  I like that this movie doesn't need to explain how badass Dredd is.  You see it for yourself.  When a hit squad of corrupt cops show up to kill Dredd they ask Ma-Ma if she knows who she is dealing with.  She says, "No."  Which they reply "We do."  And then the squad demands a pay increase because they know Dredd and what he is capable of.  That is a terrific way to show how badass Dredd is.  They didn't even need to open a folder and read his profile.

While I was watching DREDD I couldn't help but feel like I was watching a movie from the eighties updated with today's technology.  It is hard to put my finger on why.  I think it is because visually the film is more down to earth despite having some large computer generated city buildings and flying ships.  It has a grit to it similar to ROBOCOP.  The violence at times is bloody and over the top while other times it is very simple with BANG-BANG-bad-guy-falls-down type action.  There is a weight to everything.  There isn't a lot of C.G.I. crazy crap flying around all over the place.  Dredd is imposing.  His walk is dominant and straight letting everyone know that this guy doesn't compromise.  The audience is assured that something awesome is going to happen by his presence on the screen.

DREDD isn't perfect.  It did get a little slow at times but I like slow.  I watch films from the seventies.  I found the entire film to be an exciting violent action film that didn't insult my intelligence.  Way to go, DREDD.  Carl Urban deserves an Academy Award for Badassness with this film.  Not once does he take off his helmet.  I assume that is how it is in the comics.  Its nice to see they stick to the comic as much as possible when it comes to the Dredd character.  I guess there just aren't that many DREDD fans out there.  Thanks, Stallone.  I hope everyone supports this film when it comes out on DVD.  I don't think you will be disappointed.........much.


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