Title – Dragged Across Concrete (2018)
Director – S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk)
Cast – Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughan, Tory Kittles, Michael Jai White, Thomas Kretschmann, Laurie Holden, Jennifer Carpenter, Don Johnson
Plot – Suspended and unpredictable cops Brett Ridgeman (Gibson) and Anthony Lurasetti (Vaughan) find themselves delving into the criminal underworld in hopes of financial rewards they aren’t getting from their police work.
“Do not prioritize money over having a heartbeat”
Review by Eddie on 30/08/2019
As is the case with S. Craig Zahler’s previous two feature films, the well regarded and cult favourites Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99, your enjoyment of his newest grizzly feature Dragged Across Concrete will depend on how much you like a slow burn, in this case a really slow burn.
Officially clocked in at 2 hours and 39 minutes in runtime, Concrete will test the patience of even the most patient of viewers, as Zahler’s dialogue heavy examination of Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughan’s boundary pushing suspended police officers Ridgeman and Lurasetti is an often downright snail paced experience that features some great scenes and top-notch script work but also fails to justify why Zahler needed 2 and half hours to tell a relatively simple tale.
This is a problem that has affected all of Zahler’s films so far, and while I for one am all for storytelling that takes its time to set up character, place and narrative, I’ve yet to understand why his films seem to escape the editing room suite on each instance.
There’s a number of seemingly irrelevant scenes in Concrete, from long-winded conversations between Gibson and Vaughan as they tail a bunch of criminals, stoic acts of unimaginable violence (that have become a staple of Zahler’s works) and rather pointless scenes with side characters that don’t add a whole lot to the narrative as a whole and while this slowly paced approach ratchets up the tension in the films brilliant last act, so much of the lead up is unnecessarily hard to enjoy.
It’s a shame this is the case because Zahler has crafted a unique concept around the well-worn corrupt police sub-genre and also unearthed a great double act we never knew we needed in the form of Gibson and Vaughan’s partnership.
A controversial casting decision considering Gibson’s colourful past private life dealings, the choice to cast Gibson in the role of a grumbled and potentially racist cop is a brave move from Zahler and one that works wonders for the film with Gibson as good as his been in years as the had enough of all the rubbish Ridgeman.
As a film fan it’s great to see Gibson given such screen-time and when partnered with Vaughan (who stole the show in Cell Block 99), Zahler manages to really bring Concrete to life through some wise casting, that goes hand in hand with stand-out cameo appearances by Jennifer Carpenter as a bank employee and Michael Jai White as a petty criminal in over his head.
Final Say –
Filled with Zahler’s biting dialogue, hard-hitting violence and self-indulgent run-time, Dragged Across Concrete has its moments and a brilliant pairing of Vaughan and Gibson but one can’t help but feel a more streamlined and energetic approach would’ve made this gritty experience so much more.
3 back of the van autopsy’s out of 5