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Review: 'Dragged Across Concrete' will beat you into submission

Posted Friday, April 26, 2019 at 4:12 PM Central

by John Couture

If the title wasn't enough of a tipoff that the film isn't for the faint of heart, perhaps the running time in excess of two and a half hours will chase off fickle viewers. Let's be frank, Dragged Across Concrete is one of those visceral viewing experiences that will have you racing into the shower when the credits finally roll.

And yet, despite what some may call torture, the film is precisely the sort of excruciating palette cleanser that writer-director S. Craig Zahler is quickly becoming known for. These type of films were littered through the 1970s and 1980s, but much like Mel Gibson's walking cop cliché, they are becoming as extinct as dinosaurs.

Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn are police detectives who find themselves suspended without pay when their strong-armed antics come under the glare of the all-seeing media. With time on their hands and money becoming tight, the pair decide to rob the bad guys to supplement their champagne wishes and caviar dreams. As you would imagine, things don't exactly go as planned.

If you're a fan of S. Craig Zahler's earlier work (Brawl in Cell Block 99 and Bone Tomahawk), then you will certainly find more of his particular brand of gritty action violence here in Dragged Across Concrete. And yet, you can definitely see him growing as a filmmaker and while there may be several self-indulgences that contributed to the film's egregious running time, I would be hard-pressed to recommend any cuts. The long run time is almost a character itself forcing the viewer to commit to the odyssey that Zahler puts on celluloid.

Before his erratic behavior caught up to him, Mel Gibson was one of the top A-listers in Hollywood and his turn as an anachronistic, racist cop has him back on his game. Given his past behavior, it might seem a bit too on the nose to have him playing such a backward character, but again, every cringe-worthy word that he utters plays into his past and as the audience, we buy into that. As I said, Dragged Across Concrete isn't an easy watch, but it is quite rewarding in other ways.

After his revelatory performance in Brawl in Cell Block 99, I think it's safe to say that Vince Vaughn will answer S. Craig Zahler's call no matter what. He turns in another strong performance as Mel Gibson's much younger partner who is more progressive (his would-be fiancee is black) and yet subservient to Gibson's intolerance. And yet, in many ways, Vince Vaughn is seen as the true anti-hero of the bunch which is akin to saying that he's the prettiest turd in the toilet bowl.

Dragged Across Concrete is rife with cameos and smaller roles by strong actors including Don Johnson, Jennifer Carpenter and Laurie Holden. It's pretty obvious that Hollywood's best and brightest have caught on to S. Craig Zahler's brilliance and they are chomping at the bit to be a part of it.

If you are a fan of 1970s police exploitation films, then you will really enjoy Dragged Across Concrete. It's a true throwback movie with a soundtrack that will instantly transport you to a simpler time when many of the film's more risqué choices would simply be accepted as par for the course.

Dragged Across Concrete is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.