For those not in the know (or the now), Judge Dredd first appeared more than 30 years ago in the pages of 2000 AD, a British-based, science-fiction oriented weekly comic book anthology. Credit for Judge Dredd belongs to writer/editor Pat Mills, writer John Wagner, and artist Carlos Ezquerra. In a dystopian future, uniformed Street Judges patrol Mega-City-One, dispensing on-the-spot justice, acting as police, judge, jury, and executioner. Dredd rides a cannon-powered, computer-equipped motorcycle, the "Lawmaster" (as opposed to the Lawnmaster, a completely different vehicle used for landscaping), a DNA-coded handgun called, appropriately enough, the "Lawgiver," a pliability inducing baton, and, most iconic of all, a half-helmet that covers his face with the exception of his mouth and jaw.
All of that, of course, might be familiar to you from the misconceived, poorly executed Judge Dredd film made fifteen years ago with a past-his-prime Sylvester Stallone as the title character, a slumming Armand Assante as the villain, a wasted Max Von Sydow as an elder Judge and Dredd's mentor, and for unnecessary comic relief, Saturday Night Live veteran (and longtime Adam Sandler friend), Rob Schneider. Loud, ultra-violent, and ultimately, a drag to sit through, the adaptation all-but-guaranteed that sequels wouldn't happen (they didn't).
As for Urban, he has more expressive range than the average muscle-bound actor. He can handle demanding action roles, as he proved in the execrable Pathfinder, can handle brooding heroism, as in the otherwise forgettable Doom, and can handle light, comedy-inflected roles, as he proved in Star Trek as Doctor McCoy. Of course, Urban will need a good script and a good director to take Dredd through his paces as he enforces Judge-style justice in Mega-City-One. Johnston suggest that we won't see the rebooted Dredd's face like his long-running comic book counterpart, won't take off his mask, a possibility that I find unlikely given the expense involved in mounting an effects-heavy, action-oriented film. If audiences never get to see Dredd without his helmet, then what, exactly, is the point of hiring Urban and not a lesser-known (or even unknown) actor?
So what do you think of Urban taking on the visored helmet and perpetual scowl? Good, bad, or indifferent? What other characters would you like to see in the Judge Dredd reboot? Who else would like to cast in the reboot?