I do so admire S. Craig Zahler. From his breakthrough writer/director first Bone Tomahawk, he appears to give two-fingers to whatever is in vogue and just does whatever he wants.
He doesn’t look to trends, or what’s “hot”, he just makes his brutalistic movies and if you love ’em, welcome aboard, if you don’t, I imagine he just shrugs his shoulder and gets on with the next one.
That next one was Brawl In Cell Block 99 , for me, it didn’t quite hit the giddy heights of Bone Tomahawk, but it was a fun sort of sick, grindhouse-esq movie all the same.
When Dragged Across Concrete was announced I was excited, what a title. Then he added Mel Gibson (“Blood Father“, “The Beaver“) and re-united himself with Vince Vaughn (“Fighting With My Family“, “Hacksaw Ridge“), and my excitement went up another level.
Outside of that, and knowing that both Gibson and Vaughn play cops, I knew nothing about the movie going into it, that, it transpires, was a mistake. You see, I really wanted to love it, I was all hyped to love it but, sadly, I didn’t.
For starters it is far too long, clocking in at two-hours and 39 minutes! And you feel ever single one of those minutes. It’s a slow movie, more a drama than we’ve seen from Zahler previously, but when it takes this long, the tension dissipates quickly.
Gibson is Brett Ridgeman, a cop who has been in the same position on the force for years and years. That’s because he doesn’t do ‘politics’, he does ‘good honest police work’, whilst his former partner Don Johnson (“Brawl In Cell Block 99“, “Cold In July”), is now the Lieutenant.
Ridgeman is partnered with a younger man in Anthony Lurasetti (Vaughn). Both complain about the wages they make, forced to live in neighbourhoods they otherwise wouldn’t choose to but it’s all they can afford.
Ridgeman has enough when his daughter is assaulted for the fifth time in two years. Whilst both men are suspended, after being filmed standing on a mans neck whilst making an arrest, they hatch a plan to rob what they think is a drug dealer.
Lorentz Vogelmann, Thomas Kretschmann (“Stratton“, “Avengers: Age Of Ultron“), isn’t a drug dealer though, he’s a very dangerous bank robber and, together with a man who wonders around with an automatic weapon, seemingly ripping off the smallest of shops and people, they have a plan to steal a lot of money and gold.
They have some help in Biscuit, Michael Jai White (“The Dark Knight”, “Black Dynamite”), and Henry Johns, Tory Kittles (“True Detective (TV)”, “Sons Of Anarchy (TV)”), two ‘street hoods’.
Somewhat inevitably, the bank robbery doesn’t quite go according to plan and many people die, including Jennifer Carpenter (“Brawl In Cell Block 99“, “Dexter (TV)”), who puts in a stellar turn for such a small part.
The result is a stand-off involving all of the bad guys, Vaugh, Gibson and Johns, an armoured truck, many, many weapons, and a hostage. It’s violent, there’s blood, guts, though actually it’s tame in comparison to Zahler’s previous.
Dragged Across Concrete is, and it pains me to say it, a disappointment. I so wanted to love it, perhaps my expectations were to high. It’s slow, laboured even, and whilst both story and music are good, it’s sadly not enough.