The first trailer for Dredd has arrived and, for me, sits in a very odd spot. It's one of those movies where a lot of the visuals are completely counter intuitive to what I'm used to, but at the same time seem to fit the subject matter perfectly. It's got a fascinating look and visual grammar to it, as well as, of course, a tremendous amount of shooting and punching, and here are ten things I noticed about it.
1.The Raid Effect
Straight away, people have begun passing comment on how Dredd is lifting either premise or action beats from The Raid. It's easy to see why too, given that on one level both movies are about police officers fighting their way through a feudal tower block. Interestingly, this has already been addressed directly by Gareth Evans, The Raid's director, on Twitter:
'Dredd' looks great, not concerned at all about similarities. That film was in production around the same time we finished The Raid.
So there you go.
2.'800 million people living in the ruin of the old world.'
Much has already been said about how this version of Mega City 1 looks a little sparse. I think the layout's ordered rather than sparse. Look at that opening shot of the city and the blocks equally placed, their shadows falling in precise, regimented lines. This may well be a city built under the supervision of the Judges, neatly designed, precisely ordered and still slipping into chaos.
4.Ain't Got Time To Bleed
The first time we see Dredd up close and personal, at .46, bears a little examination. It's a nice look at the biker gear/kevlar plates combo that the Judges wear and he looks convincingly battered and grimy. But look closer and you see something interesting. That's a bullet wound in the bottom left quadrant of his chest, and it's still bleeding. Which leads us to…
5.Do Have Time To Stand Though
At the 1.00 mark we get that shot of Dredd and Anderson looking out over the city as huge doors open in front of them. It's a nice shot, but as the camera pans around, we see Dredd's still carrying that chest wound. Now it's entirely possible, given the character, he's working a shift whilst wounded but there's also good evidence we're actually being shown the end of the movie here. Dredd's wounded, Anderson's battered and those Judges making their way through the doors could be the clean up crew. It's not certain yet, but it is a possibility.
6. Breaking News
At .52 seconds the news ticker makes a reference to the 'Fergee memorial riots'. Not only is that a lovely bit of fan service but it neatly contextualizes Dredd as a Judge who has served for some time, giving both him and his city some history.
7. Breaking Faces
Anderson's fight scene is interesting, because there are two ways you could view it. The first is that Cassandra Anderson is a rookie Judge and as a result is essentially a one woman SWAT team crossed with a homicide detective and bike cop. The other possibility is that Anderson's psi abilities mean she's moving past a strike before her opponents' thrown it. We know the fact she's psychic plays into the movie and it'd be nice if she used her abilities as practically as she may be doing here.
8. Wide Open Spaces
I love that the center of the block is empty because it speaks not only to the uniformity of Mega City 1 but also the desperation of finding a means to house so many people. This is a tower block extended far beyond its means, a vertical, feudal society and one which seems to have very few hiding places. It's a neat action conceit too, maximizing the scope of the movie but still keeping it claustrophobic.
9. 'I am the Law.'
As opposed to this. That calm, quiet assurance that Urban delivers the line with isn't just Dredd, this is old school Dredd, the character who strode across the English comics scene like a large, angry titan for decades. Combined with his other lines here, it provides an early look into how the movie's going to portray Dredd. They appear to be going for the calm, focused, futuristic Dirty Harry of the character's early run which, again, is nicely in keeping with the lean aesthetic of the movie.
10. Reflecting On The Law
At about the 2.00 minute mark we get a flash cut of Dredd with someone reflected in his visor. It's difficult to tell but, combined with the 'The sentence is death' moment a few seconds later, and the distinctly Headey-esque figure he's putting through a window, I wonder whether we're seeing the end here once again. After all, this is a trailer that starts with Ma-Ma throwing three men off the top of the block, so finishing it with her following them down makes a certain sense. If so it's interesting that so much of the ending is in the first trailer, showing real confidence in the movie and maybe tacitly acknowledging that no one really thinks Dredd's not going to make it out of this alive.
Dredd is released on September 7th in the UK and September 12th in the US, because, presumably, justice needs to book trans-Atlantic flights just like the rest of us.