Dragged Across Concrete drags indeed

Dragged across Concrete is a grim neo-noir crime-drama headed up by director S. Craig Zahler. 

Zahler has admitted to having extreme difficulty getting his scripts made in Hollywood. Watch Dragged Across Concrete, and you will soon, though not necessarily quickly, see why.

The film stars Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn as two disgraced cops who are suspended after footage of their heavy-handed arrest tactics is leaked to the media. It’s a buddy-cop film of sorts but is darker than the films that the odd-couple genre is usually known for. 

Gibson is the grey-haired jaded and racist Brett Ridgeman. He has a wife with MS and a teenage daughter who regularly gets assaulted in the poor neighbourhood they live in. Vaughn (who is nearly 50) plays the younger partner, Anthony Lurasetti, who’s ready to propose to his girlfriend, but fears he can’t offer her much of a life on his low salary.

Both feeling unappreciated and financially-motivated, they hatch a plan to change the course of their futures. 

It takes almost an hour, of the films painfully long 2 hour 40-minute running time, just to reach this stretch of a premise. In what seems like a serious storytelling mistake, the events unfold chronologically and unfortunately the pacing never really picks up… at least, not before you’ll be fast asleep in your chair. 

Every line of dialogue is delivered as if they have a rookie lip-reading audience in mind, that is to say, the delivery is excruciatingly slow. And every pause between each line of dialogue is an agonizing beat too long.

The chemistry between Gibson and Vaughn isn’t awful but it also doesn’t make the movie. The fact that neither one laughs at each other’s attempts at dry wit makes the humour feel non-existent. Instead of coming across like a mismatched couple with true affection for each other under their gravelly exteriors, they seem more like two work colleagues who tolerate each other out of habit.

There’s another duo in the film on the other side of the law played by Tory Kittles and Michael Jai White. Kittles is Henry, a con who’s straight out of prison and almost immediately forced back into crime to save his mother from hooking and heroin and provide for his disabled brother. The story of Henry and his mate Biscuit increasingly intertwines with the police pals and despite being given less screen time their on-screen relationship fares slightly better.

Clearly, Dragged Across Concrete was never intended to be a Bad Boys or Lethal Weapon style film, but surely it was intended not to be boring, and it misses that mark too.

Throughout Dragged Across Concrete one of Ridgeman’s quirks is that he likes to spout off percentages of event probabilities.

In keeping with that spirit, here are some for you.

90% of people will find the film too long.

70% of audiences will doze off before the second hour is through.

60% will wake up to yet another scene where two people are talking in a car and wonder if they missed anything at all.

The answer will be probably not.

It’s a dry dull journey from one unlikeable character to the next and if you manage to make it through the film without nodding off, you might well feel like you’ve been dragged across concrete yourself. Frankly, it’s hard to believe they invited the comparison.

SEE IT if…

You’re really into slow burns

or

You love watching two people sit and talk in a car. Repeatedly.

SKIP IT if…

You don’t have insomnia

or

You’re expecting Lethal Weapon

It gets 2 stars out of 5.

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