I’ve been a big fan of S. Craig Zahler’s last two films, Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99. Both films had a very distinct style to them and both were great. I’m also a big fan of Mel Gibson, so knowing that they were teaming up together naturally I was excited. The movie did not disappoint.
The movie follows two cops, whom after being suspended with no pay after illegal police activity is caught on video, are now forced to provide by whatever means necessary for their families.
I’ll start with the negatives first. The movie is too long. It’s about twenty minutes too long, and that is due too the slow pacing and Jennifer Carpenter’s character, which did not need to be in this film. I understand that she was also in Brawl, so the director probably wanted her again for this film, but her story just felt like it had no purpose whatsoever in this movie. I like Jennifer Carpenter as an actress, but here her story adds nothing.
The rest of the film is two hours of a gripping drama that is incredibly well acted, superbly written and expertly directed. Craig’s films all have a dirtiness to them and the world he puts his movies are violent and unforgiving. With a movie that has a title like Dragged Across Concrete, you can kind of predict how violent and dark it’s going to be from the get-go.
Mel Gibson is incredible in this film as he always is, behind or in front of the camera. He’s the main character of the movie and he’s a very flawed character and never makes the good decisions. Vince Vaughn is his young partner, whom after getting suspended decides to follow Gibson throughout his crusade. Both of them try to do the best they can to support their families now that they don’t have any jobs.
Tory Kittles also plays a vital character in the film and is absolutely great in this film. He is nuanced and he also does a lot of bad decisions, but he wants the best for his family like the cops. He’s been through some dark stuff and he’s trying to keep his head out of the water.
And it gets dark and violent. This movie is certainly not for the weak hearted. If you don’t like when things get rough, then don’t watch this film. It’s got long sequences of intense violence and a lot of people die. Does this movie glorify violence a bit? Yeah, like most of Zahler’s films. Bone Tomahawk is one of the few movies where I ever looked away while watching a torture scene. It was horrifying and brutal but that’s what really happened back then. Brawl in Cell Block 99 had Tarantino level of violence where it’s over the top and it isn’t real life violence and it worked for that film and it also works here as long as the violence serves the story, then I have no problem with it and Zahler definitely knows how to incorporate it.
Overall, Dragged Across Concrete is a taut, suspenseful action thriller with great performances, amazing writing and an overabundance amount of violence.