In the sprawling metropolis of Mega-City One, which spans the entire eastern seaboard from Boston to Washington D.C., 800 million citizens vie for resources and survival. The Justice Department, whose officers are known as Judges, is maintaining order in this overcrowded, dystopian landscape. Acting as police, Judge, and jury, these authoritarian figures possess complete authority to hand out sentences, including execution, as they see fit.
Though intended to be incorruptible bastions of justice, some within the Judge force misuse their power and privilege. Nevertheless, the majority serve as stalwart protectors, albeit rigid and uncompromising, keeping the peace in Mega-City One through any means necessary. The citizens under their watch live in fear and poverty, dependent on the Judges to dispense harsh justice to maintain control amidst the urban chaos.
The 9 Judges are Judge Dredd, Judge Anderson, Judge Volt, Judge Guthrie, Judge Chan, Judge Lex, Judge Kaplan, Judge Alvarez and Chief Judge.
1. Judge Dredd (Karl Urban)
Judge Dredd is the main protagonist of the film, portrayed by Karl Urban. He is a legendary Street Judge in Mega-City One, tasked with enforcing the law and dispensing justice on the spot. Dredd is viewed as the city’s most effective Judge, though his methods are harsh and uncompromising. He believes wholeheartedly in the Judge system and will not hesitate to execute offenders.
At the film’s start, Dredd is tasked with evaluating a rookie Judge named Cassandra Anderson, who possesses powerful psychic abilities but fails her aptitude tests. Dredd is distrustful of Anderson but agrees to assess her skills. When the duo investigates a triple homicide at the Peach Trees block, they become trapped inside with drug lord Ma-Ma and her gang. Dredd adapts to the challenge and helps Anderson realize her potential as they fight to escape. Though blunt and pragmatic, Dredd does care about protecting the innocent people caught in the block.
2. Judge Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby)
Cassandra Anderson is a rookie Judge with immense psychic powers. Despite failing her aptitude tests, the Chief Judge allowed Anderson to prove herself by doing a field evaluation with Dredd. Anderson is optimistic and conscientious, though her abilities make her something of an outsider. She joined the Judge force hoping to make a difference, seeking to help citizens over harsh punishment.
When trapped in Peach Trees, Anderson proves her worth to Dredd by using her powers to track down Ma-Ma and her gang. She also helps free innocent residents from their apartments.
Her compassion emerges when she insists on saving Kay, even though Dredd wants to leave him. Ultimately, Dredd passes Anderson as a full Judge, recognizing her potential. Her psychic gifts and strong morals make Anderson an exceptional addition to the Hall of Justice.
3. Chief Judge (Rakie Ayola)
The Chief Judge is the commander of the Judge Force in Mega-City One. She respects Dredd and sees promise in Anderson, granting the rookie a chance at evaluation. The Chief Judge believes fully in the Judge system, aware that only the force stands between order and chaos in the city. She does not appear directly in the film but is referenced frequently and gives orders remotely.
The Chief Judge’s authority over the city is absolute, though she relies on Judges like Dredd to enforce the law. Her approval is essential for Anderson to become a full Judge.
4. Judge Volt
Judge Volt, portrayed by Daniel Hadebe, is an upright Judge partnered with Judge Guthrie. When Dredd sends out an SOS from the Peach Trees block controlled by Ma-Ma, Volt immediately responds, only to be locked out by Ma-Ma’s technician enacting a War Protocol. This protocol shuts down all Judge access, trapping Dredd and Anderson inside.
Later, the corrupt Judges Chan, Lex, Alvarez, and Kaplan arrive on the scene, claiming jurisdiction. Having no reason for suspicion, Volt and Guthrie stand down as ordered, unaware that this allows the rogue Judges to kill Dredd and Anderson.
Though well-intentioned, Volt inadvertently enables the corrupt Judges and nearly costs the lives of his fellow honest Judges, Dredd and Anderson. His actions highlight how even lawful Judges can be manipulated by sinister forces like Ma-Ma. Ultimately, Volt tries to uphold justice but becomes an unwitting pawn due to naivete rather than malice.
5. Judge Guthrie
Judge Guthrie, played by Francis Chouler, is the partner of Judge Volt. When Dredd calls for backup at Peach Trees, Guthrie and Volt rush to help, only to be denied entry by Ma-Ma’s technician unlawfully enacting a War Protocol. Though this abusive use of protocols warrants prosecution, Guthrie and Volt acquiesce. Later, four dubious Judges arrive to take over and are granted entry, raising Guthrie’s suspicions.
Yet Guthrie does not intervene or question their presence, a questionable choice given the circumstances. While Volt and Guthrie intend to serve justice, their unquestioning compliance enables corrupt forces and nearly costs the lives of fellow Judges Dredd and Anderson.
Guthrie highlights how even well-meaning Judges can fail to uphold the law through complacency, collaboration, or fear of defying authority. His choices reflect the complex moral struggles Judges face in an imperfect system.
6. Judge Chan
Judge Chan, played by Karl Thaning, is another corrupt Judge on Ma-Ma’s payroll. More unhinged than his fellow rogues, Chan quickly resorts to violence, whether impulsively executing a medic or viciously brawling with Dredd.
His hair-trigger temper jeopardizes the rogue Judges’ mission, provoking a brutal hand-to-hand fight with Dredd that nearly ends with Chan choking Dredd to death.
However, Dredd manages to overpower Chan, crushing his windpipe after kneecapping him. Chan represents utter corruption among the Judge force, abandoning justice for sadistic brutality. Despite Dredd’s strict moral code, he’s forced to defend himself against the deranged Chan lethally.
Their confrontation highlights how, at times, even lawful Judges must turn to drastic measures when faced with members of the force irrevocably devoted to evil. Chan serves as a warning about unchecked corruption metastasizing within the Justice Department.
7. Judge Lex (Langley Kirkwood)
Judge Lex is a veteran Street Judge and one of the three murdered by Ma-Ma’s gang at the film’s start. Dredd and Anderson respond to the hit at Peach Trees, not knowing it is a trap set by Ma-Ma. Judge Lex has no speaking lines, but his execution and skinned body set the tone of brutality for the film. It illustrates Ma-Ma’s willingness to kill Judges to protect her drug operation from the law.
8. Judge Kaplan (Michele Levin)
Judge Kaplan is the second Street Judge assassinated by Ma-Ma’s gang at Peach Trees. His body is left on display with Judge Lex and Judge Alvarez. Like his comrades, Kaplan has no lines before his violent end. The murders of the three Judges spur Dredd and Anderson to investigate Peach Trees, leading to their confrontation with Ma-Ma. The bodies also give Ma-Ma an advantage by eliminating the Judges summoned there on routine duties.
9. Judge Alvarez (Edwin Perry)
Judge Alvarez is the third Judge who was gunned down by Ma-Ma’s men at the film’s start. When Dredd insists on doing a complete evaluation of the crime scene, Anderson uses her psychic power to discern that Alvarez was killed first.
Like the other murdered Judges, Alvarez represents Ma-Ma’s complete disregard for the law in protecting her criminal enterprise. The executions set the grim tone that permeates the film and illustrates the decaying social order of Mega-City One.
10. About Dredd
Dredd is a 2012 science fiction action film directed by Pete Travis and written and produced by Alex Garland. It is based on the 2000 AD comic strip Judge Dredd and its eponymous character created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra.
Karl Urban stars as Judge Dredd, a law enforcer given the power of judge, jury, and executioner in a vast, dystopic metropolis called Mega-City One that lies in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
Dredd and his apprentice partner, Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), are forced to bring order to a 200-story high-rise block of apartments and deal with its resident drug lord, Ma-Ma (Lena Headey).