Film and Plot Synopsis
In this film based on the 2000 AD comic strip Judge Dredd, Earth is a wasteland following a nuclear war. Civilization now lives in one massive city on the East Coast known as Mega-City One. Eight hundred million people live in the city, and seventeen thousand serious crimes are committed each day. The only tool against the crime are judges, who now serve as judge, jury, and executioner. The most vicious of the judges is Judge Dredd, who has been assigned to evaluate a new judicial officer who has telepathic powers. However, when Dredd and his trainee stumble upon a drug den in a high-rise building, they are forced to fight for their lives just to survive the day.
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‘Dredd’ Movie Summary
One of the most effective and violent judges is Judge Dredd (Karl Urban), who has been tasked by the Chief Judge (Rakie Ayola) to evaluate a new judicial recruit Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby). Anderson is a mutant who has developed powerful psychic powers which allows her to read other peoples’ minds. Despite this, Anderson still failed the judicial aptitude tests. Dredd has been ordered to test her to see if she can survive as a judge.
At the same time, three rogue drug dealers are stopped from committing a robbery. The drug dealers seek asylum in their 200-story slum apartment building called Peach Trees. The drug dealers work for drug lord Madeline “Ma-Ma” Madrigal (Lena Headley) who runs everything that goes on in Peach Trees. Ma-Ma is displeased with the rogue drug dealers for working on the side. She has them all injected with an addictive drug known as Slo-Mo which reduces the user’s perception of time to 1% of normal. Ma-Ma then has her men skin the rogue drug dealers alive and thrown over the side into the atrium from the top floor. Dredd and Anderson are dispatched to investigate the rogue drug dealers’ deaths.
Once at Peach Trees, Dredd and Anderson discover a drug den within the building which they raid. They kill many of the drug dealers, but capture one of Ma-Ma’s main operatives, Kay (Wood Harris). Anderson reads his mind and learns that Kay was the one who carried out the executions of the drug dealers per Ma-Ma’s orders. Rather than executing him, Dredd decides to take Kay in for questioning. When Ma-Ma learns of Kay’s apprehension, she orders her computer expert (Domhnall Gleeson) to take control of the building’s security system and seals the building to prevent Dredd and Anderson from leaving with Kay. The sealed building also prevents the judges from communicating with the outside world.
Welcome to the inside of your head. It’s kind of empty in here. Judge Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby)
Ma-Ma orders her men and the other citizens of Peach Trees to kill the judges and return Kay to her. She also threatens to punish anyone who assists the judges in any capacity. Dredd and Anderson find no sanctuary initially and must fight their way through the building to pockets of safety. Dredd decides to move up through the building to get to Ma-Ma. Once the judges reach the 76th floor, Ma-Ma and her men use rotary cannons to fire on the judges. The ordinance rip through the walls killing both some of Ma-Ma’s men and innocent residents, but Dredd and Anderson survive. Eventually, Dredd and Anderson breach the outer wall of the building and call for back-up. At the same time, Ma-Ma sends her right-hand man, Caleb (Warrick Grier), to track down and kill the judges. However, Dredd gets the better of Caleb and ends up throwing the henchman off the tower in front of Ma-Ma.
Dredd suspects that Ma-Ma’s desperation to stop them is a ploy to keep Kay quiet, so he begins beating the drug dealer for information. Anderson intervenes and reads Kay’s mind. She learns that Peach Trees is the center of Slo-Mo production and distribution for all Mega-City One. With the new information, Anderson proposes hiding and waiting for their back-up to arrive. However, Dredd insists that they press on towards Ma-Ma to fulfill their obligations as judges. Unbeknownst to Dredd and Anderson, Judges Volt (Daniel Hadebe) and Guthrie (Francis Chouler) arrive at the entrance of the building as back-up, but Ma-Ma has her computer expert deny them entrance into the building to buy time.
Soon after, Dredd and Anderson encounter a pair of armed teenagers, whom Anderson is reluctant to kill. Kay uses the distraction to disarm and overpower Anderson. He takes the inexperienced judge as a hostage and takes her back to Ma-Ma’s base on the top floor. Dredd continues to fight his way through the building towards the top floor. Ma-Ma calls in assistance from four corrupt judges – Lex (Langley Kirkwood), Alvarez (Edwin King), Chan (Karl Thaning), and Kaplan (Michele Levin) – to stop Dredd. The four corrupt judges relieve Volt and Guthrie at the entrance and are allowed into the building by the computer expert.
Not long after, Dredd encounters Chan and becomes suspicious when Chan fails to inquire about Anderson. Chan attacks Dredd, who easily kills the corrupt judge. Back on the top floor, Jay attempts to kill Anderson with her own firearm. However, the pistol’s DNA scanner prevents the gun from firing and explodes in Kay’s hand, taking the drug dealer’s hand off. Anderson uses the opportunity to escape and runs into Kaplan. She reads Kaplan’s mind and promptly kills her realizing her duplicative nature. Elsewhere in the building, Dredd encounters Alvarez and kills him, but exhausts his ammunition. Lex finds Dredd and shoots the helpless judge. Dredd hides and stalls long enough for Anderson to arrive, who then kills Lex with one of the dead drug dealer’s weapons.
Eventually, Dredd and Anderson make it to the top floor and obtain the code to Ma-Ma’s apartment from her computer expert. They find the drug lord inside and confront her. Ma-Ma informs Dredd that she is wearing a dead-man’s switch on her wrist that will detonate explosives on the top floors of Peach Trees and destroy the entirety of the building if she is killed. Dredd concludes that the detonator’s signal could not reach the explosives from the ground floor. He grabs Ma-Ma and forces her to inhale Slo-Mo. Dredd then throws Ma-Ma over the side into the atrium on the ground floor 200 hundred floors below. Ma-Ma dies and the explosives fail to explode.
In the aftermath, Anderson acknowledges that she failed her evaluation to Dredd because she was disarmed by Kay. She walks away, symbolizing that she is at peace with her fate. The Chief Judge arrives and asks Dredd about Anderson’s evaluation. The stoic Dredd tells his boss that Anderson passed.