Dragged Across Concrete is the most recent film written and directed by S. Craig Zahler. Right at the top of my most anticipated films of 2019 was Dragged Across Concrete. Zahler’s two other films, “Bone Tomahawk” and “Brawl In Cell Block 99″ were exceptional. In these two films I experienced some of the most acute and off setting tension I’d ever experienced during a film viewing. DOC was no different. The violence is brutal, the story telling technique is divergent to say the least, and the characters aren’t particularly likable. In the wrong hands this could be a disaster. But, for these three films it works.
To my family friendly readers, this is not a movie for the squeamish, for family, or for anyone who requires some moral culpability from their entertainment. This is not a movie that cares about what you want. It has a story to tell on it’s own terms and it makes no apologies.
In Dragged Across Concrete you are introduced to two detectives played by Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn. These guys have clearly seen a little too much in their time. The story begins with them arresting a drug dealer, but not by the politically correct standards of society. Whether you are cheering for Gibson and Vaughn or you are appalled by the way they get their collar, they are punished for getting “cast iron”. In the age of technology they were caught on camera phone and deemed racists because of their harsh treatment of a Hispanic bad guy.
The punishment is a month of suspension. We quickly learn both detectives face serious financial struggles in their personal lives. Together they begrudgingly decide to use their skill-set to rip off some criminals. Standing on their self declared moral high ground they continue to get deeper into a crime they had not anticipated, and in spite of opportunities to back out they continue their pursuit. On the flip side you see two hardened criminals who are partaking in the heist that Gibson and Vaughn are planning to rob. Add a few more choice character’s and let chaos take you to the next level.
What builds the tension is having no sense of anticipation. You find out quickly that everyone is expendable, at any given moment. All of the characters are unpredictable and not necessarily likable. As events unfold even if you are rooting for someone they do some pretty deplorable things in the name of their cause. There are scenes that just chew (even literally) and serve no purpose other than to make you be present in the moment with the characters. If nothing else the film making technique truly makes you experience what the characters are going through. Without the regular beats or character development that most feature films serve us Dragged Across Concrete thrives on unpredictability. When you add a gritty story of violence and apprehension you are sitting on the edge of your seat biting your finger nails till they bleed.
This is NOT a movie for everyone. This is a film that is unapologetic about what it is. It has a story to tell and it’s going to exactly how it wants to. It’s not going to end how you want it and nothing is what you’re going to expect. In a world of predictable, by the numbers films Dragged Across Concrete is fresh and new, though brutal and abrasive. Not unlike Tarantino films, you know you’re in for something special when you sit down for a Zahler film and I cannot wait for whatever he does next. If his name’s attached, I’m there. This is why I go to the movies.