Once two overzealous cops get suspended from the force, they must delve into the criminal underworld to get their proper compensation.
‘Dragged Across Concrete’, the latest film from S. Craig Zahler, is another tough old school exploration of masculinity, this time through the lens of two corrupt cops who seek to take advantage of a criminal gang’s ill gotten gains. Zahler has worked a niche for himself in ultraviolent genre fare, and as the title perhaps suggests, this film is every bit as brutal as ‘Brawl in Cell Block 99’ and the superb ‘Bone Tomahawk’ were. This is a film about bad people doing bad things and it has a very nihilistic outlook, but I found it to be pretty gripping even with an unwieldy (and partly unnecessary) two and a half hour long runtime.
The film stars Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn as Brett Ridgeman and Anthony Lurasetti, two cops who we’re introduced to as they’re roughing up a couple of suspects, an event that will come back to haunt them when someone films it and releases it to the media. This leads to their suspension and with bills to pay at home, the men use their criminal connections to get a lead on a potentially large score. At the same time, an ex-con called Henry (Tory Kittles) joins up with a childhood friend to assist on the same robbery the cops have their eye on, and the paths of all 4 men will converge over time. ‘Dragged Across Concrete’ is more of a slow burner than an action packed drama, and much of the tension comes from second guessing each character’s next move.
In some quarters the film has been labelled as right wing or deliberately provocative (particularly with Gibson’s casting) but I never got the impression that Zahler is attempting to justify the behaviour of any of the characters on display. There are different shades of ugliness in the film’s main characters, with perhaps only Henry being remotely redeemable, and I felt this worked as a window into the lengths certain people will go to for money and/or power, and it held my attention throughout. The frugality in which action sequences are deployed helps to enhance their power when they do come, and they’re smartly directed, swift and brutally to the point, allowing the after effects to linger on the characters left standing. It’s not perfect – a minor subplot with Jennifer Carpenter’s character stretches the good/evil morality play without nuance, but ‘Dragged Across Concrete’ is another fine film from Zahler and continues his strong run as a director willing to make tough and uncompromising films in the R-rated sphere.
Directed By: S. Craig Zahler
Starring: Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn, Tory Kittles, Michael Jai White, Jennifer Carpenter, Laurie Holden, Fred Melamed, Don Johnson, Thomas Kretschmann and Udo Kier