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DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE gets 6/10 Hard time


Directed by S. Craig Zahler

Starring Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn, Tory Kittles, Laurie Holden

6/10

When an arrest makes its way onto the news due to excessive violence, veteran police officer Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) starts to examine what opportunities his honest life has provided. Suspended from the force, his daughter harassed due to the neighbourhood they’re living in, and his wife (Laurie Holden) in failing health, Ridgemann hits on a plan to make some money. With the support of his partner (Vince Vaughn), he seeks to steal from an out-of-town drug dealer, but things soon get out of control, and threaten to land both of them either in jail or in a grave.

Dragged Across Concrete allows room for its characters to breathe. It gives them space and time to develop organically, rather than merely being spurned on by the demands of narrative, as they loiter while smoking half a pack of cigarettes, and hacking up phlegm. The film could easily lose 40 minutes of over two and a half hour run-time, and certainly be the better for it. But that long, drawn out nature of Dragged Across Concrete is partially the point. It mirrors the extended periods of waiting, followed by brief moments of intense action and violence, that punctuate the lives of both police and criminals. Director S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell Block 99) seeks to create a grim and grinding treatise on crime.

Even so, Dragged Across Concrete is excessive in that attempt, introducing characters in an extended fashion, even when they’re only tangentially related to the plot. Instead of the intended purpose of garnering empathy for a victim of a crime, it seems indulgent, and almost comically heavy handed.

Which is a shame, as there’s a solid piece of gritty slow burn crime drama buried amid the excess. Gibson is made for the role, like a version of Riggs (Lethal Weapon) that has met the real world, and has been ground down by decades of departmental politics, and regulatory procedure. Vince Vaughn’s Lurasetti pairs well with this, bringing a more sarcastic quip to the embittered growl of Ridgeman. Tory Kittles drifts in and out of the plot, bringing a solid, but somewhat enigmatic character to Henry Jones, as the ex-con finds himself in over his head when things go south.

Its solid cast and grim integrity do a lot to recommend Dragged Across Concrete, but at the end of the day, not quite enough to make it compulsive viewing.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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