Traditionally, most post-apocalyptic movies have been set in arid, sparsely populated landscapes that look like something out of a Spaghetti Western. The world of Dredd is one in which the surviving population of post-nuclear disaster are crammed into sweltering, overflowing “megacities” where crime and lawlessness have run rampant.
Taking place almost completely within a single location, the atmosphere of claustrophobia and dystopian chaos in Dredd is rendered with great visual flair by director Pete Travis and cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle in this, the second attempt to adapt the British comic character for the screen. Mantle, who shot Slumdog Millionaire, conveys the same dizzying sense of urban sprawl here, only with much less warmth and more dread, so to speak.
The effective visuals and relentless action sequences are the main achievements of this version which brings 2000 AD‘s flagship character much closer to his dark, violent roots but minus the social satire of the comics. It’s this missing component that prevents Dredd from being one of the better comic book films. This is disappointing given that Alex Garland (Sunshine, 28 Days Later) penned the script.
What are the social, ethical and political implications when a character who’s basically like the Punisher becomes sanctioned by the state? Dredd, as entertaining as it is, leaves this unexplored. Maybe in the sequel. [subscribe2]