A unique heist film, one of the best ever.
Dragged Across Concrete
Director: S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk)
Cast: Mel Gibson (Braveheart), Vince Vaughn (Hacksaw Ridge)
Runtime: 2h 39 min
By: John DeSando
Action, crime drama
“It’s bad for you, it’s bad for me, it’s bad like lasagna in a can.” Anthony (Vince Vaughn)
Writer/director S. Craig Zahler blew me away with Bone Tomahawk, as eccentric a western as ever made. In Dragged Across Concrete his two white, male suspended-cops’ (Anthony and Brett, played convincingly by Mel Gibson) heist takes a more traditional path but has dialogue continually as crisp as my headliner, though decidedly less explosive and ironic than Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs.
Although you may think you have seen this gritty and yet mellow thriller before, Zahler has expertly and innovatively conducted us through an eccentric but dangerous underworld of robbery and treachery. I suspect in real life the double-dealing happens more than we would guess.
Two-handed dialogue, ala Tarantino, about fast food and family, for both the two protagonists and the bad guys, alternates between the mundane and the philosophical, anchovies, and murder. Although conversation is not as caustic as that of Tarantino’s loveable crooks, the wordplay rings truer about daily living, even for those involved in robbery and murder.
The wonder of this heist is that we get to know even the bad guys, Russian and Latino, as the director keeps the camera steady on two crooks driving the getaway van and talking about family and the growing danger of the robbery. Or getting to know a victim through an extended visit to her paranoia about leaving her apartment and child for numbing work at the targeted bank. Fate will decide her future, and we are the more empathetic for having spent time with her.
Dragged Across Concrete fulfills the promise of its hard-edged title: its heist is memorable, multifaceted, and microscopically treated as if we were in the planning and execution. Along the way there’s humor to lighten the death-threatening caper.
Brett catches the ambivalent crime-stopping the two are indicted for: “And it turns out that sh-t’s more important than good, honest work.” This is a good, honest heist film about characters not so good or honest but interesting nonetheless.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com