Saturday, September 22, 2012

Dredd 3D

Sharing a basic plot outline with “The Raid: Redemption,” the worst movie of 2012 to date, isn’t a good starting point for the dreadful “Dredd 3D,” which plays like the world’s uncoolest video game. In its dystopian future America, “judges” (cops who make on-the-spot determinations of guilt and impose and execute the prescribed sentences) patrol Mega City One, an 800-mile megalopolis from Boston to D.C. Greatest among equals is Judge Dredd (of the 1995 Sly Stallone bomb, “played” this time by Karl Urban behind a mask that makes Tom Hardy’s in “The Dark Knight Rises” look positively commodious).

As the movie opens, Dredd’s commanding officer assigns him a new trainee, a “mutant” named Cassandra (Olivia Thirlby) who can peer psychically into perps’ psyches. He has her choose a random case from their docket and, lo and behold, she puts them onto a triple-homicide at the 200-story Peach Trees tower, the base of operations for ruthless drug kingpin Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), whose new product Slo-Mo (which lets the inhaler experience reality at one-hundredth normal speed) is flying off the shelves. Next thing you know, Ma-Ma shuts the building down and blocks all ingress and egress, trapping Dredd and Cassandra and turning the movie into, well, “The Raid: Redemption.”

This is a video game none of the cool kids would play. There’s the sour, humorless hero, indestructible even at close range. There are the usual shoot-‘em-up fallacies: the bad guys who attack one at a time rather than en masse, the logical inconsistencies, an out-loud-laughable instance of the Talking Killer. Have I mentioned how colossally boring “Dredd” is?

What’s so wrong with Slo-Mo anyway? It produces the one worthwhile scene, early in the picture, when Ma-Ma gives a guy a snort of the stuff just before sending him over a 40-floor railing. And what’s to like about Dredd? To anyone with the slightest taste for civil liberties, he’s the real villain of the piece.

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