Dragged Across Concrete Review

To misquote a popular soundbite, it’s the hype that kiils you.

Tired of watching two minute montages that give away an entire film or sell you false hope of what a movie’s going to be, I purposely avoided the trailer for Dragged Across Concrete, as well as any other information about it.

The only thing I knew for sure before watching Steven Craig Zahler’s new film was the title and its director.

This was more than enough to whet my appetite. Zahler’s debut Bone Tomahawk is one of my favourite films of recent years and his follow up Brawl in Cell Block 99 was rather good too.

And if I ever made a film, I’d want to come up with something as visceral as Dragged Across Concrete to call it – the title alone filled my mind with disturbing images of bodies being towed across vast expanses of granite in some sort of harrowing death.

For a guy like me, this is a major plus point.

Dragged Across Concrete is a less than literal description of the film that follows, which could somewhat unfairly be boiled down to a cops and robbers caper.

The focus of the movie shifts between bad guys and even badder guys; from a fresh out of jail ex-con looking for a way to provide for his family, to a couple of recently suspended bent cops cooking up a desperate plan to hijack a heist so they can… provide for their families.

There’s no real hero to get behind, no-one to emotionally invest in or root for – except a minor character we’re introduced to about half way through whose elaborate back story is merely used to set up some incredibly violent scenes.

Something I really enjoyed.

Zahler has a real taste for gore but he uses this sparingly, favouring everyday conversations and interactions that only serve to heighten the impact of his films’ more visceral moments when they inevitably erupt on screen.

Vince Vaughn and, curiously, Mel Gibson are the two leads, playing their pair of bent coppers with straight faces and deadpan humour – think Samuel L Jackson and John Travolta from Pulp Fiction, crossed with Walther Matthau and Jack Lemmon’s pairing from The Odd Couple. 

At more than two and half hours long, Dragged Across Concrete can feel like a long watch – but thanks to the three dimensional characters and Zahler’s darkly comic script, the film never becomes dull and is always enjoyable.

None of the characters are worthy of our support though, and the conclusion may come across as unsatisfying because of this. 

This is a minor criticism though. and Dragged Across Concrete cements Zahler’s reputation as a modern boundary pusher while evoking memories of early Tarantino films.

Andrew Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

April 2019