Dredd: You killed innocent people—! Rico: A means to an end. Dredd: You started a massacre! Rico: I caused a revolution! Dredd: YOU BETRAYED THE LAW! Rico: LOOOOOAAAW!
A 1995 film adaptation of the comic book of the same name starring Sylvester Stallone and Armand Assante. For the 2012 film adaptation starring Karl Urban, see Dredd.Following a nuclear war in the late 21st Century, those who survived flocked to the Mega-Cities, large urban landscapes covering hundreds of square miles. The Mega-Cities become overcrowded, giving way to wide-scale, uncontrollable crime and violence. Law and Justice, as we know them, become something of the past. To combat the rampant criminal activity, a new kind of police force is created, one with the power to dispense both justice and punishment, acting as Judge, Jury, and Executioner. They are The Judges.The most dangerous of the Mega-Cities is Mega-City One, and to combat those dangers is toughest of the Judges. His name is Judge Dredd.Accused of a crime he didn't commit, Judge Dredd is out to bring justice to the situation which has befallen him as he uncovers the nasty conspiracy surrounding the perfect criminal, Rico.The film combines characters and major plot points from about five completely separate story arcs in the comics along with other minor elements from the comic's history and tries to blend it all together in a single 96-minute narrative.
Dredd: There is a way in. Six years ago, two refugees figured it out. It's a vent to the city's incinerator. There's a burst twice a minute. That means somebody could run through that tube and have 30 seconds before it flames again.
Fergie: And these, these refugees, they made it through, right?
Dredd: Actually, they were roasted. But the theory's sound.
Berserk Button: Although Dredd tried to remain stoic and even blamed the guy for his incompetence, you could tell he was pissed when a thug committed first degree murder on a street judge. As well as the satisfaction, that the punishment for such a crime was death.
BFG: For part of the second half of the film, Dredd ends up using Fargo's really huge shotgun.
Clear My Name: Dredd, accused of an unlawful murder, must expose the true culprits and reattain his status as a Judge.
Clear Their Name: To a lesser extent, Fergie expects Dredd to let Justice Department know of Fergie's innocence and let him off the hook. Leads to a few humorous moments, such as Dredd winding up in a shootout in the Hall of Justice and, upon bumping into Fergie again, being asked if he told them Fergie can go free.
Cloning Blues: Rico and Dredd are revealed to be genetically engineered by Justice Department in the Back Story. The restart of these genetic experiments makes up a major portion of the rest of the plot.
Clone Degeneration: This is the implied reason why Rico not only looks nothing like Dredd and became Ax-Crazy. It was more clearly seen when Rico hatches the first set of clones early.
Collapsing Lair: No real reason is given as to why the cloning facility starts falling apart in huge showers of sparks and falling equipment during the film's climax. It doesn't actually collapse, but it clearly sustains massive and mounting damage, which somehow doesn't feel appropriate considering all it gets are a few shots to the walls.
Disproportionate Retribution: Dredd sentences Fergie to a five-year stint in the Aspen penal colony for hacking an food dispenser droid to save himself during a block war in his new neighborhood, Dredd reasoning that Fergie is a habitual criminal (having only just returned from a six month stay in Aspen). His fellow Judge even questions the sentence.
When coming across a DUI, Dredd shoots the offender's car. With a Hi-Ex round.
Future Food Is Artificial: Perhaps the one thing that best reflects the original tone of the comics, a droid promoting "recycled food", proclaiming, "Eat recycled food. It's good for the environment and okay for you!"
Future Slang: Some dude screams "HOLY DRACK!!!" after seeing that a Judge's gun is rigged to electrocute anyone other than a Judge. Interesting in how "Drack" ,at least in this context, could be a derivative of the real word, "Dreck", meaning "shit".
Future Spandex: Judges wear a lycra/spandex bodysuit undergarment under their body armor.
A God Am I: Metaphorically. Rico being a product of a genetic engineering project, sees himself as being above humanity and wishes to rule over Mega-City One.
Hollywood Law: Dredd is convicted on the strength of evidence that his defense was not informed of, which is implied to be against the Justice Dept.'s standard practices. Additionally he's convicted on the basis of only DNA evidence despite the fact that there's a psychotic Judge who happens to share Dredd's DNA and the Judges (who are fully aware of this) never make an effort to check Rico's location. (Though in their defense, all of them but Griffin thought Rico was dead, and that Dredd was merely following in Rico's footsteps.)
Hook Hand: Mean Machine Angel has an artificial arm with several hook and blade attachments.
Hypocritical Humor: When Fergie restates his innocence to Dredd while on the transport to the Aspen Penal Colony and calls his sentencing a mistake, Dredd responds, "The Law doesn't make mistakes", to which Fergie asks Dredd to otherwise explain how he's being shipped to the penal colony, as well.
Judge Dredd: Actually, you're toast. I forgot to mention it. Your new friends [The Angel Family]? They're cannibals!
I Will Tear Your Arms Off: Rico orders his ABC robot to rip off Griffin's limbs (and save the head for last) when he doesn't approve of Rico's takeover of the Janus project and threatens to do the same for Judge Hershey if Dredd refuses to join him.
Intrepid Reporter: Vartis Hammond, who is very critical of Judge Dredd and the Justice Dept.
Ironic Name: Heavenly Haven is the name of the shithole of a block where the Block War takes place.
Leave No Witnesses: Chief Judge Griffin is quite insistent that Dredd's shuttle crash killed everyone aboard, so insistent that when a recovery team finds survivors, Griffin gives an implicit order to kill them.
Loyal Phlebotinum: The Judges' guns record the shooter's DNA whenever a shot is fired, so each death can be traced back to the relevant Judge and trial. They also store palmprint records, so if a non-Judge tries to use the weapon, it delivers an incapacitating shocknote This is different from the comic version, which explodes when picked up by a non-Judge and will not fire for any Judge other than its owner.
Moral Dissonance: For being the ultimate, bred-for-the-purpose Judge with justice and fairness at the top of his moral code, Dredd sure doesn't seem to consider it particularly troubling to shotgun a few completely innocent guards who just happened to be unlucky enough to have a crooked master, or to cause others following him on hoverbikes to crash into the scenery. Or to crash one of said hoverbikes into a building (presumably containing at least some innocent people) and exploding several floors of it.
Mugged for Disguise: After being removed from the force, Dredd jumps a fellow Judge for his uniform so he could better infiltrate the Hall of Justice.
Mythology Gag: The smiley face graffiti seen on the Statue of Liberty is a reference to the original comic's story "Un-American Graffiti", in which this was a signature part of a character's graffiti tag.
Neck Lift: The ABC robot does it to Judge Hershey.
Non-Indicative Name: Fergie's new home, Heavenly Haven, turns out to be an utter shithole that's in the middle of a block war.
Tailor-Made Prison: Rico's prison cell keeps him behind a force field with automated guns trained on him at all times.
Take My Hand: Judge Hershey to Dredd, while he's hanging from the top of the Statue of Liberty.
Take the Wheel: Dredd to Fergie during the aerial chase as he's about to jump to another vehicle.
Tap on the Head: Dredd renders another Judge unconscious in such a manner in a locker room.
Terrorists Without a Cause: the criminals perpetrating the block war don't really seem to have any good reason for doing so. They even start shooting at the other guys completely out of the blue, spurred simply by Fergie's arrival.
Truth in Television: Despite sharing identical DNA, Fargo, Dredd and Rico look nothing alike, besides skin and hair (for Dredd and Rico anyway) colour. In reality, clones tend not to resemble their "parent" too much, since your appearance is determined only partially by your DNA, it's also determined by the life you lead and the conditions you're exposed to in the womb. Of course, the real reason is that it would have been too difficult to have Stallone play three characters, one in heavy age makeup, all of which have face-to-face interaction, and also, having them all look the same would have tipped viewers off to The Reveal that Dredd and Rico were Fargo's clones way too early. This is handwaved by Fargo stating that DNA was taken from all the members of the council, not just himself.
Un-Person: "Let him be stricken from our hearts and our memory... forever."
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Griffin's motivation is simply to restart the Janus project so that he can build up Justice Department to cope with the massive crime rate. However, his actions (forcing Fargo out, getting Dredd out of the way, his choice of dragon and murdering of the council) are essentially evil.
Worldof Ham: Nearly everyone seems to enjoy shouting their lines in the cheesiest and most over-the-top way possible.
Wretched Hive: Mega-City One boasts extraordinarily high unemployment and crime rates.
You Owe Me: Hershey keeps a running tally in regards to Dredd.