Blu-ray Review: Dragged Across Concrete

STUDIO: Lionsgate | DIRECTOR: S. Craig Zahler | CAST: Vince Vaughn, Mel Gibson, Jennifer Carpenter, Laurie Holden, Udo Kier, Tory Kittles
RELEASE DATE: April 30, 2019 | PRICE: DVD $12.96, Blu-ray $16.99
BONUSES: featurettes
SPECS: R | 159 min. | Crime Thriller | 2.35:1 widescreen | stereo

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio | Video | Overall

If you’ve seen either of writer-director S. Craig Zahler’s previous films—2015’s Bone Tomahawk and 2017’s Brawl in Cell Block 9—you’ll know what to expect from his Dragged Across Concrete, the one-time novelist’s latest outing. True to form, Zahler takes a methodical approach to building characters and their relationships during the first part of the film, then lets all hell break loose in an orgy of mayhem and violence.

Here, veteran cop Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson, Lethal Weapon franchise) and his younger partner Tony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn, The Internship) are grounded by their boss (Don Johnson, Cold in July) for getting caught roughing up a Latino drug dealer. They decide to go rogue to alleviate their family financial difficulties and rip off the crooks who pull a daring bank robbery masterminded by a vicious thug  (Thomas Kreutschman, Avengers: Age of Ultron) But adding more complexity to the cop’s gutsy but not well-formulated scheme are the appearance of ex-con Henry (Tory Kittles, Olympus Has Fallen) and his pal (Michael Jai White, Accident Man) , who serve as getaway drivers for the thug’s bank heist.

Much time is spent on the tough guy speak between Gibson and Vaughn. The profane back-and-forth dialogue in the Tarantino mold is enjoyable in a down-and-dirty way, but goes on way too long—the film clocks in at 156 minutes!  Not surprisingly, the film is also filled with some ugly social insights that hail from a definitive political view. Audience’s acceptance of the sharp mano-a-mano small talk may depend strictly on their open-mindedness to the opinions expressed by the racist main characters.

When the action rears its ugly head in the Dragged Across Concrete’s last 40 minutes, it’s profuse and sometimes tough to watch. But this won’t be a surprise for anyone who has seen Zahler’s previous efforts. What makes Dragged Across Concrete more unsettling, though, is its contemporary urban setting. The situation and carnage are more grounded here as opposed to Bone Tomahawk, a nasty horror yarn in western clothing, and Brawl in Cell Block 99, an over-the-top prison saga.

Despite the enthusiastic following Zahler’s previous outings received, the release pattern for Dragged Across Concrete has been unusual. Like the director’s other work, the film received a quick and limited theatrical release close to its streaming dates, which is being followed closely with a DVD and Blu-ray release. One would assume the cast, Zahler’s name, generally strong reviews and film festival exposure would earn the film a wider theatrical showcase.

Perhaps it will take even bigger names or a bigger budget to make Zahler more respected in Hollywood and win a wider audience. We’re not counting on it, because the filmmaker has yet to show he’s one to compromise, stylistically or politically.

Buy or Rent Dragged Across Concrete

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.