Dragged Across Concrete film review: solid attempt at classic crime

Vince Vaughn and Mel Gibson in Dragged Across Concrete.
Vince Vaughn and Mel Gibson in Dragged Across Concrete.

DIRECTOR and writer S. Craig Zahler has a solid attempt at classic crime in Dragged Across Concrete, though the results are somewhat mixed.

The core of this lengthy piece (almost two hours, 40 minutes, though it doesn’t, well, drag too much) is a heist. Of a heist.

But to get there, plenty of exposition is provided.

Zahler wants us to know what would get a career cop like Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) into such a scenario.

Initially it’s the supposedly heavy-handed tactics he employs during a bust with long-time partner Anthony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn); the problem is that some of it happened to be filmed and becomes clickbait fodder for police brutality.

Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn in Dragged Across Concrete.

Badges are duly handed in. For cops working paycheck to paycheck with various home complications, the loss of immediate income is problematic.

We also need to know what would lead a guy fresh out of prison like Henry Johns (Tory Kittles) to agree to head straight back into crime with childhood friend Biscuit (Michael Jai White).

Each party is at opposite ends of the central heist, Henry and Biscuit as drivers, the cops, having got wind of the plans, hoping to rob the rather brutal robbers.

It eventually plays out at a remote location, with unlikely alliances formed in the ever-changing scenario.

The problem for Zahler, who directed the classy western chiller Bone Tomahawk, might be his extravagant and multifarious talents. He can do a lot really well, including action sequences. But in his desire to pay homage to some of the greats of the crime genre, he spreads things a little thin.

Nevertheless, with veteran Gibson in good form, there’s a substance to this material that lifts it well past the humdrum.

If I were to offer one concrete proposition it would be this: Zahler’s achievements will amount to much more than this competent piece of filmmaking.

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THE ESSENTIALS

Dragged Across Concrete (R 18+)

Directed by: S. Craig Zahler

Starring: Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn, Tory Kittles, Michael Jai White

Reviewed by: Martin Turner

3.5 stars

In cinemas now