GFF19: Dragged Across Concrete

Dragged Across Concrete is a sublime action flick – but Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn's right wing cops are not the heroes we need right now

Film Review by Ross McIndoe | 26 Feb 2019
  • Dragged Across Concrete
Film title: Dragged Across Concrete
Director: S Craig Zahler
Starring: Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn, Tory Kittles
Release date: 19 Apr
Certificate: 18

Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) has been a cop for a long time. Too long, probably. He’s failed to rise through the ranks and now has a partner who's 20 years his junior (Vince Vaughn). Fortunately, the younger man shares his “ends justify the means” approach to police work – sometimes this means involve standing on the back of a man’s neck, or tormenting a naked deaf woman.

It makes sense that Ridgeman has been hardened by years of dealing with the worst of humanity, and it could have been fascinating to see how far an audience could sympathise with him in spite of his fading humanity, but his views just sound like the greatest hits reel for one of Fox News’ least interesting pundits. Men don’t act like men these days. People who complain about intolerance are really the intolerant ones.

At one point, Ridgeman’s wife despairs that the black boys who are bullying their daughter are “turning her into a racist”. He seems to feel that this is a reasonable view. The movie seems to agree.

All of which leaves the audience in an awkward place, because everything on top of this is sublime. Dragged Across Concrete is an excellent action flick with leads who, when they aren’t bitching about cell phones or correcting black people’s grammar, are an absolute blast to be around. Their banter has a kind of hyper-articulate gruffness that sounds like Mozart played on a drum kit, yet as good as he is with one-liners, writer and director S. Craig Zahler really shines once the talking stops.

So many action directors today like to revel in slow-motion shots, letting the audience pore slowly over the carnage as it floats gracefully past the camera. In Zahler’s world, everything happens almost too fast for you to see it: a bang, a scream, a blood splatter, a body on the floor. Skulls burst and fingers fly off hands, all the information crushing its way into your brain in the same half-second. Then it’s over.

But as well made as Zahler’s noirish latest is, there are few heroes we need brought back out of the deep freeze less right now than Harry Callahan.

Dragged Across Concrete had its Scottish premiere at Glasgow Film Festival and is released 19 Apr by StudioCanal