Dragged Across Concrete is an excellent contemporary crime thriller that feels painstakingly real. From its characterizations of bitter people blaming PC culture and 24/7 surveillance for their own faults to the drawn-out investigations that suggest other criminal activities are afoot, this is a divisive film that is identifiable and purposely tough on the viewer.
With Dragged Across Concrete, writer/director S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell Block 99) branches off from the plot to lay down the groundwork for characters involved with the film’s primary climax – a bank heist. We meet the grizzled cops (Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn) who have been suspended for unorthodox policing, their struggling families, a crook (Tory Kittles) recently released from prison only to find himself in the thick of shady activity once again, his friend and partner-in-crime (Michael Jai White), and the masked men who are causing chaos around the city. Once these separate pieces are established, Zahler cautiously connects them – finding organic albeit unpredictable ways for conflicts to intersect with each other.
Dragged Across Concrete finds interesting ways for audiences to invest in the characters and the story, even if that means tricking them. Zahler’s direction isn’t manipulative, but he’ll lead audiences down some cruel paths to obtain necessary reactions. One of the top-billed actors, for instance, is hardly in the movie because they’re suddenly – and graphically – gunned down by one of the masked men. While this is a tactic that some viewers may find pointless and frustrating, this directorial choice adds depth and a layer of consequence to the film’s reality, leaving movie goers genuinely fearful for what will come next. Let’s just say Zahler has a knack for building tension and shocking audiences.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie