DREDD (2012) Reviews and overview

New! Visitor ratings! Click on a star to indicate your rating of this movie!

‘Judgement is coming’

Dredd is a 2012 action science-fiction film set in a future city where the police have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner. Also released as Dredd 3D

Directed by Pete Travis (City of Tiny Lights; Vantage Point) from a screenplay by co-producer Alex Garland (Annihilation; Ex Machina; 28 Days Later…), based on the 2000 A.D. comic book characters created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra. The movie stars Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby and Lena Headey.


Future America is an irradiated wasteland. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC lies Mega City One – a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the urban cops called “Judges” who possess the combined powers of judge, jury and instant executioner. Known and feared throughout the city, Dredd is the ultimate Judge, challenged with ridding the city of its latest scourge – a dangerous drug epidemic that has users of “Slo-Mo” experiencing reality at a fraction of its normal speed.

During a routine day on the job, Dredd is assigned to train and evaluate Cassandra Anderson, a rookie with powerful psychic abilities thanks to a genetic mutation. A heinous crime calls them to a neighbourhood where fellow Judges rarely dare to venture – a 200 storey vertical slum controlled by drug lord Ma-Ma and her ruthless clan…


“Writer Alex Garland chooses not to explore the possibilities inherent in the slo-mo drug, concentrating instead on straightforward video game shoot-em-ups until the inevitable showdown, and you can’t help feeling that he missed an opportunity to make Dredd stand out from the slew of superhero movies doing the rounds. Dredd isn’t a failure by any means, but it’s also nothing like as good as it should be.” 20/20 Movie Reviews

“Along with Urban’s strong performance, Dredd boasts plenty of crazy action, the craziest of which involves a high-powered assault cannon, personally fired by Ma-Ma, that tears an entire block of the Peach Tree apart, killing dozens of residents. As awesome as this sequence is, it’s but one of many ultra-violent, powerful confrontations.” 2,500 Movies Challenge

“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…” Alone in the Dark

” …it’s a simple cat-and-mouse game between Ma-Ma’s legions and the Judges, but the filmmakers keep your eyes glued to the action and have you rooting for the (let’s face it) fascist tool Dredd and his scary-smart partner. It’s a win-win situation for the audience (who probably weren’t expecting this level of mayhem) and the (bound to be) Judge Dredd franchise, which kickstarts like 20,000 volts to the heart, or a burst from Dredd’s Lawgiver MK II. Absolutely, 100% kickass.” Austin Chronicle

“With style and dour charisma to spare, Dredd proves that the smartest way to handle an action plot is often the simplest, while also tossing in enough flash to set itself apart. It didn’t have quite enough fun with its ideas and location as I’d hoped for, but it’s got plenty of strong raw material to get it to the finish line.” CinemaBlend

“A common mistake in screen adaptations – and one not confined to comic-books – is to shave off all the interesting edges and end up with a product that bears little relationship to the name being traded off. This is not a problem that affects this movie. The essence of Dredd is that he is almost an anti-character – he doesn’t change or learn – and Urban nails it in an ego-free performance with half his head obscured by a helmet.” The Guardian

“The futuristic Day-Glo color scheme of Pete Travis’ film—which somehow totally fits the dark, disturbing nature of the story, especially in 3D—may remind some of the unfortunate predecessor. Though previews were filled with blood, bullets, and violence, the look of the film, especially in short glimpses, has something of a misrepresentation, a candy-coated veneer that belies the violence and depravity lurking beneath.” The Last Thing I See

“Clearly, Dredd has been made with a medium budget – not the more lavish one that the Stallone version had. Thus the film has been economically contained within the space of tower block for the duration, which means that most of the action takes place amidst a series of dreary apartment hallways. It disappointingly feels like the film that has only made minimal effort to replicate the world of the comic-book.” Moria

“I am sure there will be those who are impressed by the CG of a bullet tearing through a man’s cheek, rippling the skin as it bursts out the other side but for me it is one of the many over-indulgent scenes which in turn make it gimmicky […] And that is a shame as other than that there are many good things going on from the look of the future to the story which sees a lot of focus on the character of Cassandra and her in at the deep end experience as a rookie with Dredd.” The Movie Scene

” …this is exactly the film that early Dredd strips deserve: the leaner, younger Dredd with the heavy violence and pressure cooker environment that the police state dictates, and the complete lack of sexism and misogyny that makes Dredd always such a great read. The cast, in their entirety, have nailed the restraint of characters living in this world.” New Statesman

“The background is strong enough to make some of the movie’s more outlandish elements seem credible and to represent the dour Judge Dredd as a paragon of justice. There’s also a fair amount of dark humor, often of the gallows variety, that never seems out-of-place. Not much of what Dredd has to offer is new or groundbreaking, but the fusion of familiar elements generates a smartly-paced, suspenseful 90 minutes that’s a vast improvement over the 1995 film…” Reel Views

“The movie goes at a fantastic pace, moving along briskly and giving us just enough character development to matter. It’s edited well and despite the obvious use of CGI and some slow-motion shots here and there, it looks good. The filmmakers were smart enough to go for a ‘hard R’ rating with the film so it’s plenty violent and all the better for it, while the ‘3D’ scenes are subtle enough that you won’t have a problem watching it in 2D.” Rock! Shock! Pop!

“Travis’s filming is clean and well-paced, his gift for proffering grisly spectacle without belabouring appreciable, and indeed he’s able to find visual rhapsody in savagery. The film is filled with framings and shots that authentically recreate not just the colour and clarity but also the specific tension that defines comic-book art, in the dialogue between the frieze-like singularity of the individual image and its place in a constantly onrushing, necessarily descriptive series of illustration.” This Island Rod

“Grim, gritty and ultra-violent, Dredd reinstates the somber brutality missing from the U.K. comic book icon’s previous screen outing, the disappointing 1995 Sylvester Stallone starrer Judge Dredd. A reboot as drastic as Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, this hard-R, sci-fi actioner from director Pete Travis and screenwriter Alex Garland should find an appreciative audience among serious-minded fanboys and gorehounds…” Variety

” …the action is well done, especially considering the cramped quarters. The shootouts are handled competently and at all times they keep the camera f*cking still, which is a plus. The gore is plentiful too. Heads explode, hands blow up, people are skinned alive, and bullets course through cheekbones […] Because of the grittiness of the art direction and the old school aspect of the action choreography, the flick often feels more 90’s than the Stallone version.” The Video Vacuum

“I have no problem with violence in movies, in fact, I rather enjoy the visceral thrill of it, but when there is no meat to chew on or anything to think about it can suddenly become very irresponsible. There is occasion where the violence of Dredd 3D is impressively sick (I have never seen such a lingering sight of a man’s head being blown to pieces with a machine gun), but there’s nothing more for it to offer than that, and it makes you feel guilty for enjoying it.” We Got This Covered

“One of the smartest things about Garland’s script is that does away with any attempt at comedy – one of the problems with the 1995 original is that it brought in Rob Schneider to lighten the tone. The gritty and ultra-violent nature of this reboot is much more suitable to the source material and Olivia Thirlby (The Darkest Hour) makes for a much better supporting character than Rob Schneider.” Wicked Horror

Dredd 3D is the kind of movie that flirts with a fascist point of view about law and order but barely acknowledges it while also firing round after round of ammo at its heroes without bothering to explain how they almost never get hit. If this film were a little smarter or a little dumber, it might have been a great deal more fun.” The Wrap

Main cast and characters:

Karl Urban … Judge Dredd
Rachel Wood … Control Operator 1
Andile Mngadi … Passenger
Porteus Xandau … Driver
Jason Cope … Zwirner
Emma Breschi … Hostage
Olivia Thirlby … Anderson
Rakie Ayola … Chief Judge
Lena Headey … Ma-Ma
Tamer Burjaq … Ma-Ma Bodyguard
Warrick Grier … Caleb
Wood Harris … Kay
Domhnall Gleeson … Clan Techie
Joe Vaz … Big Joe
Scott Sparrow … Japhet
Marty Kintu … Big Joe Gang Member
Nicole Bailey … Cathy
Daniel Hadebe … Judge at Entrance
Francis Chouler … Judge at Entrance
Junior Singo … Amos
Luke Tyler … Freel
Langley Kirkwood … Judge Lex
Edwin Perry … Judge Alvarez
Karl Thaning … Judge Chan
Michele Levin … Judge Kaplan

Filming locations:

Cape Town Film Studios, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
Johannesburg, South Africa
Oriental City Shopping Centre, Colindale, London, England

Technical details:

95 minutes
3D Stereoscopic
Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1
Audio : Datasat | Dolby Digital | Dolby Atmos | DTS (DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1) | DTS (DTS 11.1 Neo: X)

Box office: 

Dredd took $41.5 million theatrically worldwide on a $30–45 million budget, plus an estimated $20 million in DVD and Blu-ray residuals.


MOVIES and MANIA rating:

MOVIES and MANIA provides an aggregated range of film reviews from a wide variety of credited sources, plus our own reviews and ratings, in one handy web location. We are a genuinely independent website and rely solely on the minor income generated by internet ads to stay online and expand. Please support us by not blocking ads. If you do block ads please consider making a small donation to our running costs instead. We'd really appreciate it. Thank you. As an Amazon Associate, the owner occasionally earns a small amount from qualifying linked purchases.