Mel Gibson is back in the buddy cop role, but to put it lightly, he’s a complete bastard. Working side-by-side with Vince Vaughn, they form cop duo, Brett (Gibson) and Tony (Vaughn), in S. Craig Zahler’s gritty, edgy and dangerous, ‘Dragged Across Concrete’.
Opening with Henry Johns’ (Tory Kittles) return home from prison to his prostitute mother and disabled brother, we are immediately present with one figure within crime: the ex-con. Soon after, we finally see Brett and Tony up to their dirty work: police brutality. Brett’s determination to get the bad guy is almost Terminator-esque, but uh-oh, they’ve been filmed by a nosey bugger a few windows away. After being reprimanded by their superior, Lt. Calvert (Don Johnson!), Brett and Tony are desperate and broke, thus suggested by the former, they end up transitioning to another side of crime: theft.
It is fascinating to observe Mel Gibson’s varying portrayals of law enforcement over the past 40 years – from Max Rockatansky in ‘Mad Max’ to Martin Riggs in 80s action classic ‘Lethal Weapon’ and now Brett Ridgeman in ‘Dragged Across Concrete’, Gibson has been successful in adapting his police performance according to his age and the tone/style of the respective film. Of course, watching Gibson play a cop again does establish a slight desire to see a reunion with Danny Glover for a fifth ‘Lethal Weapon’, but realistically, they’re both too old for that shit.
Vince Vaughn, however, can be just as hard, but is certainly the more human of the two and does possess a conscience of sorts. Other than being a cop and a bit of a dick early on, it is difficult to differentiate this Vaughn role to, say, his role in Steven Spielberg’s ‘The Lost World: Jurassic Park’. There is nothing too standout from the character other than his growing conscience when the crimes worsen and as a cop, he should be preventing murder, instead of a co-operated quest for personal greed.
Like with every great crime and action epic, there is a slight comedic element. Though initially slightly awkward, the black comedy present within Brett and Tony’s partnership is a pleasurable comfort for the viewer and a charming nod to the typical buddy cop movie of yesteryear, in which Gibson was seminal in.
One could argue that, pardoning the pun, this film drags on a bit. In dragging on, ‘Dragged Across Concrete’ entails realistic portrayals of stakeouts and heists, examining the time-consuming processes of crime. But in these portrayals, the executions of action are gritty as hell. The gritty action, however, is not that frequent, though when present, you certainly feel it. Like S, Craig Zahler’s previous work, the presentation of explicit violence establishes the film itself as being oppositional towards mainstream action cinema and mainstream cinema in general. The morality presented is sometimes extraordinarily vulgar, therefore, the extremely slow pacing prevents any viewer from quickly moving on from said morality, as such vulgarities remain present for considerable amounts of time. Again, the slow pacing further increases the durability of intensity, as noticeably present in the third act of ‘Dragged Across Concrete’.
Ultimately, ‘Dragged Across Concrete’ views as a quite raw and gritty piece of cinema, though the lengthy duration (2h 39m) and pacing will either completely put you off or inspire you to watch the dirtiest and meanest crime thrillers out on the internet. Whether you end up liking this film or not, it is undeniable that S. Craig Zahler’s epic of cop-crime-chaos is refreshing and views as a somewhat intelligent alternative to the generic crime of yesterday, today and probably tomorrow.
Written by Dominic Hastings
Rating – 8/10
Question: How would you rank S. Craig Zahler’s three feature films?
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