This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.
After an apocalyptic war, humanity clusters together in Mega-Cities, extremely high-density settlements which, whilst nightmarishly crowded, authoritarian and polluted, still represent a better shot at life than trying to eke out an existence in the irradiated Cursed Earth. Mega-City One is, in principle, ruled by the steel grip of the Judges – though in actuality they are hopelessly outnumbered, with only 6% of crime reports getting investigated. The end result is a world where crime can thrive so long as it stays under the radar, but gets ruthlessly rooted out once it slips from the 94% to the 6% category.
Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is a veteran; his years of experience could land him among the leadership of the Justice Department if he fancied a desk job, but the patrol beat is where is heart lies, and he’s the best at it. That’s why the Chief Judge (Rakie Ayola) has called him in for a special task. Rookie Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) has struggled her way through the Academy, and has ended up 3% short of a pass mark. Any other candidate would have been released under such circumstances – but Anderson’s struggles may relate to the very skills which make her of vital use to the Justice Department. You see, Anderson is a powerful telepath, whose mind-reading powers may be a boon to the department even as they give her a shade more empathy than your typical Judge.