It’s not a sequel or a remake of 1995’s “Judge Dredd,” starring Sylvester Stallone. No, that adaptation of this hugely popular, British anti-hero was taken out to a dystopian city and shot in the back of the head. This is a brutal evolution of the character from the animated page to the blood-soaked screen. Dredd is police, judge, jury and executioner to a nameless city in a violent future. Written by novelist/screenwriter Alex Garland, this is a gritty, balls-out screen version. Karl Urban is the brave actor who gives his best Dirty Harry impression without ever removing his helmet and showing more than his grinding teeth. Olivia Thirlby plays Dredd’s partner with equal grit. Lena Headey takes a break from her day job, “Game of Thrones,” to show she can be a great villain in any world. Inexplicably, it bombed at the box office. That may be because of the small scope of the story – he doesn’t save the world. He doesn’t want to. He just wants to kick a lot of ass and prove that he is the law – worth a watch.
A story inside a story, inside a story – it’s a matryoshka doll of a script. Hollywood’s newest, most talented heartthrob Bradley Cooper continues to try to get all of the wedges in the critically successful, cinematic-genre pie chart. Comedy = “Hangover,” Action = “The A-Team,” Suspense = “Limitless,” Horror = “The Midnight Meat Train,” Rom-Com = “He’s Just Not that Into You,” Razzie Winner = “All About Steve” – Cooper’s only missing a kids film and a big-time drama. He tries for the big-time drama here. The verdict for this drama about a frustrated writer who chooses to plagiarize is guilty of being too easy…even when it tries to be complicated. Dennis Quaid and Jeremy Irons weigh it down. The chemistry between Cooper and Zoe Saldana is great but it’s not enough to overcome Irons and Quaid clunking it up. The good news for Cooper – he’ll probably get another wedge with the Oscar nominated, “Silver Linings Playbook.” But this one gets a pass.
“Hit and Run”
Even though he’s had a pretty versatile career, it’s hard to separate Dax Shepard from his early days of pranking on MTV’s “Punk’d.” This may be his new career marker. He writes, stars, produces, co-directs, does his own stunt-driving, lent his own cars for stunts and casts his girlfriend, Kristen Bell, as his love interest. And he does all that stuff really well. The car chases are extended and old school. He makes Tom Arnold kind of funny and there are plenty of laughs from the rest of the cast as well. Bradley Cooper is in this one, too, and he earns another wedge for a dynamic and interesting bad-guy character. Bell is as cute as a button. Shepard acts the way he always acts, only better. The ending is a bit limp and a letdown for this fast-paced film but the journey is good enough to forgive the destination. You should rush to rent “Hit and Run” – worth a watch.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge