Film review: Dredd 3D (18)

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PETE TRAVIS’ ultra-violent reboot of the 2000AD comic Judge Dredd takes a high-velocity gun to the heads of its nameless victims and splatters their brains across the camera lens.

Travis lingers on the carnage with the introduction of a designer drug called Slo-Mo, which - as the name suggests - reduces the speed of skirmishes to a crawl allowing us to see the trajectory of bullets as they scythe through flesh and explode internal organs with sickening fury. It’s a blessed far cry from Danny Cannon’s ill-fated, cartoonish 1995 foray into this dystopian future with a chisel-jawed Sylvester Stallone in the title role.

Dredd opens with a frenetic motorcycle pursuit through the streets of Mega City One and director Travis keeps his foot on the accelerator for most of the film. Karl Urban scowls beneath his helmet, tossing out the occasional one-liner, while Olivia Thirlby adds a touch of humanity to the degradation. Her troubled heroine is the only character with anything that resembles an emotional arc. Lena Headey chews scenery with obvious relish, defying macho conventions as a powerful woman in the patriarchal mire.

Special effects are solid and Travis acknowledges the 3D by throwing debris and severed limbs at the screen at regular intervals.

Adrenaline-junkies and hardcore fans of the comic should enjoy the unremittingly bleak rush.

Rating: * * *