There is a drug on the streets that seems to cancel time. Dredd is the enemy of this drug. Justice means paying for your crimes. If there is no time, there are no consequences, no choices, no actions. We get glimpses of what this slowness looks like; motion becomes lifeless, seeing is no longer human. The successful production of this drug would lead to the enslavement of the population.
In the beginning, we see the city from afar. Dredd speaks with anger & contempt about the cursed earth & the cursed city. Mankind is trapped in a city that may have become too corrupt to endure. He insists that things are too big. The human perspective is fast disappearing. Man cannot act among gigantic motions. It’s just a matter of numbers. There are far too many crimes for justice to mean anything anymore. The laws require enforcement. Hence the judges.
One day, the judges descend among mere mortals in an enormous complex. It cannot subsist as a city, because modern cities depend on science – hence power. But it has extraordinary defences that can isolate it, though not defend life. Dredd threatens a homeless guy with jail unless he goes away. He ignores Dredd, but dies during lockdown. The judges promptly learn that some criminal controls the block by terror. They will have to fight for their lives.
In the middle, the Judges escape containment briefly. They call for help. Then they have to come back in & finish the job. Now they know, there are secrets in this house that must be learned. There are too few judges to fight crime; corruption is inevitable. War is coming. Dredd has an ally; she adds a pretty, young, innocent face to helmeted justice. Dredd is not your friend. On your best day, he’s not your enemy.
This young girl can read minds. She is not particularly able as a warrior, but she is suitably ruthless. Assassins may not be courageous in the sense warriors are, but they may be more effective. By degrees we see her lose her innocence in shepherding & eventually killing a man bent on proving he is evil. It seems her innocence makes him think the girl will not kill him. Why does he think she is innocent?
In the end, Dredd makes good by wit the threats that define justice. The mind-reading girl learns courage in defying Dredd; & refuses to go around killing people. She sees that the clever are afraid of the evil; they should be spared, protected. Not even Dredd goes around killing kids. This girl sees Dredd’s anger & control & something beyond that she finds difficult to describe. The story describes it.
For fans of action movies, one of the better films in recent years.