Dragged Across Concrete is the third film from S. Craig Zahler that focuses on two police detectives (Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn) who are put on suspension and are looking to make some extra money to support their families, even if it means doing something dangerous off the grid. It’s a fantastic film for sure. The 1080p HD transfer, DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio mix, and two excellent bonus features are all worth your time. Highly Recommended!
Filmmaker S. Craig Zahler has given us some unique films over the past few years with Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99, which in my opinion, has reshaped the action-thriller genre for the better. His almost calm, cool, and collected demeanor in these films give these otherwise overly bloated action flicks some much needed character and story. His latest film Dragged Across Concrete is no different, as its run-time is just under three hours and features Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn as police detectives who walk the line of good and bad, which is what Zahler succeeds at in his films.With Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99, Zahler clearly had something to say about certain political and social issues that plague our society today, but it was done very subtly. With Dragged Across Concrete, he has the characters flat out eloquently talk about some of the racial and gender issues that seem to have gotten out of hand recently. The director/writer has even given these two characters brilliant dialogue that nobody in real life would sound off like, but in this film – it works, much like how characters seem to always have some cool and interesting way of saying something in a Quentin Tarantino film. That aspect is at play here with most of the characters.
The film follows an older police detective Brett Ridgeman (Gibson) and his younger partner Tony Lusaretti (Vaughn), who have impeccable records in taking out the bad guys in their city. That being said, their methods aren’t exactly PC or kosher and with their latest takedown of a violent dug dealer being filmed by a civilian across the street, their excessive force has landed them with non-payed suspensions by their boss (Don Johnson). The two partners have bills stacking up, other life events, and loved ones who are sick and being bullied – all who need to make some extra money one way or the other, even if it means crossing into darker territory. Meanwhile, on the other side of town, a man by the named of Henry Johns (Tory Kittles) has just gotten out of prison where his partner in actual crime named Biscuit (Michael Jai White) enlists him to do another job, which Henry reluctantly accepts to take care of his escort mother and handicapped son better.
These two duos, unknowingly are connected in that they are both in association with a group of real mean, sadistic killers, looking to rob a bank. While Henry and Biscuit are just drivers of the job, Brett and Tony are looking to rob the bad guys and take the cash to help their families. Everyone’s path is sure to be crossed at some point together, which is where Zahler perfectly showcases what happens to innocent bystanders who are simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s something you won’t soon forget either.
In Tarantino-like fashion, Zahler weaves these personal stories in and out of one another as it culminates in a chaotic, yet almost elegant climax. Zahler even uses light filters to accentuate either the steely cool nature of the cops or the bitter amber colors of a desolate landscape with no way out. It’s quite phenomenal. The dialogue between Vaughn and Gibson, while being bone dry and mostly monotone, also has you thinking the same way they do, which is neither good nor bad. In most of these types of movies, the filmmakers want to hit you over the head with characters that are one note good or one note evil. That’s not the case here, which is realistic in everyday life. It’s about the anti-hero. Sure, people want to be generally good, but there are mistakes and decisions that are made that could say otherwise. Still, both Vaughn and Gibson pull in excellent performances with doing very little. I loved every second of it.
And for this of you who have come to expect a certain amount of grotesque violence from Zahler films, you’ll get your fill here for sure as he doesn’t shy away from some of the ultra violence. Dragged Across Concrete is another fantastic edition to Zahler’s log of movies and hope he continues to make movies like this, because they are a breath of fresh air in the genre.
Dragged Across Concrete comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The film is visually stylized to go along with its unhappy tone and themes, so there are at least three different visual themes throughout the film. The first act of the film mostly has blue and silver tones, both in interior and exterior shots. Actors and sets have varying shades of grays, slivers, and blues to give that icy and cold look as if to show a harsh look at the crimes being acted out. The film slowly transitions into a much warmer, yet darker visual style with low lit yellows and oranges that are met with dark blacks that are inky and bold.
It’s as if Zahler doesn’t want to show you all of the nasty bits of violence in the film as to shroud certain things in lower lit scenes. Then the third visual tone is natural and beautiful with all of the wonderful primary colors of a big city. I’d like to think Zahler was showing innocent bystanders, in the crosshairs of these chaotic characters. They were some great stylistic choices for sure. Detail is sharp as well, even in these different color palettes, however in the warmer yellows and darker scenes, it is more difficult to make out individual hairs, wrinkles, and practical makeup wounds. Still, the movie has a filmic look to it, which gives it some good depth. Lastly, there are no real issues with banding, aliasing, or video noise.
Dragged Across Concrete comes with a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio mix and sounds great and simple. For being a violent drama with actions sequences, this audio mix is rather soft spoken, but that’s the case with all of Zahler’s films. It’s not all about explosions and overly big sounds. It’s more about the subtle dialogue between Vaughn and Gibson along with some subdued gunfire here and there.
That being said, some of the bigger guns have powerful gun blasts that can startle you and pack the low end of bass with great rumble. Vehicle motors sound full and robust and gun sound effects of clanking and reloading are all well balanced. There are a few instances of surround sounds of people chattering in the background or phones going off, but for the most part, this is a front heavy track and it sounds good. dialogue is clear and easy to follow, and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, and shrills.
Moral Conflict: Creating Cinema that Challenges (HD, 14 Mins.) – The main cast and crew talk about making the film and working on Craig Zahler films, including Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn, Zahler, and more.
Elements of a Crime: 3-Part Documentary (HD, 42 Mins.) – A much more in depth look in to the making of the film that covers all aspects of production, story, characters, tone, theme, and filmmaker decisions. Gibson, Vaughn, Zahler, and everyone else is available here in interviews.
THE ULTIMATE WORD
Dragged Across Concrete is a fantastic film that doesn’t rely on big explosions or constant gunfights. The lines between good and bad aren’t always clear and that’s what makes this movie so good. Like the other Zahler films, these characters feel more lifelike and walk that thin blade, where you don’t always feel good about rooting for your protagonists. And seeing Gibson and Vaughn together is just incredible here. Let’s do this more. The video and audio presentations are both stylized for the themes and tones and the two bonus features are something special with everyone involved. Highly Recommended!