REVIEW: Dragged Across Concrete (2019)

Theatrical Release Poster – Summit Entertainment

The following is a review of Dragged Across Concrete — Directed by S. Craig Zahler.

S. Craig Zahler’s Dragged Across Concrete is a crime thriller that follows two suspended police detectives — Brett Ridgeman (played by Mel Gibson) and Anthony Lurasetti (played by Vince Vaughn) — who are both desperate for money. Ridgeman wants to relocate his family away from a neighborhood that is unsafe for his daughter, whereas Lurasetti wants to make sure he can give his girlfriend the life she deserves. When they decide to rob criminals, they eventually run into dangerous criminals, as well as Henry Johns (played by Tory Kittles) who is equally desperate for money. They may have bitten off more than they can chew.

With just three feature films under his belt as a director, S. Craig Zahler has already made a name for himself as a filmmaker who is interested in male subgenres and bone-crunching violence. His outstanding directorial debut, Bone Tomahawk, was novelistic and extremely violent. His strong follow-up, Brawl in Cell Block 99, was a cold and slow but gripping exploitation film that contained Vince Vaughn’s career-best performance and several unforgettable brutal scenes. Similarly, Dragged Across Concrete, his third feature film as a director, is a testosterone-fueled film in a mostly male-driven sub-genre. Dragged Across Concrete is unpleasant, but undeniably gripping, even though it is definitely a slow-burn with a daunting run-time of 159 minutes.

Though the fact that Mel Gibson has been cast in the leading role will probably deter a large group of the moviegoing public from seeing the film, the former Lethal Weapon and Mad Max-star is ideal for the part. Indeed, he may be too ‘perfect,’ so to speak, for the role of someone of great talent whose problematic and racist behavior has set him back in his career. Though he is not as good as Vince Vaughn was in Brawl in Cell Block 99, Mel Gibson’s performance is one of the highlights of the film. I don’t think Gibson has been this good in front of the camera in a long time. Vaughn has turned out a solid supporting performance, though this performance doesn’t hold a candle to his performance in Zahler’s previous film. I would also add that both Tory Kittles and Michael Jai White made strong and positive impressions in Zahler’s film.

Zahler’s Dragged Across Concrete is deliberately paced but tense and absorbing. It got its hooks into me fairly early on, and it didn’t let go of me until the final credits started to roll. With that having been said, it will test the patience of audiences. Zahler has the nerve and the confidence to film stakeouts in excruciating detail. Every inch of this film is shot in a confident and patient manner often with calculated wide and full shots. I would also like to add that I really liked the banter that the two highly problematic suspended police partners shared. In general, the film’s sense of humor took me by surprise.

Though it is not as violent as his previous films, Zahler’s latest film is still more violent than most films. In Dragged Across Concrete, you see peoples’ insides and hands that have been ripped to shreds. Zahler also includes a subplot involving Jennifer Carpenter’s character that I have mixed feelings about. I think it is gut-wrenching and fairly effective, but it is also a little bit unnecessary.

Though I will concede that I have some doubts as to how well it will play on further viewings, Zahler wrings this nihilistic and unforgiving crime thriller for everything it has, and I never tired of his dedication to his resolute method in Dragged Across Concrete.

8.5 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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