If there’s one director who stirs debate between the Film School Rejects staff it’s S. Craig Zahler. Chaos reigns every time someone mentions Bone Tomahawk or Brawl In Cell Block 99 in our Slack channel, and it’s always a good time to be alive. Well, now he has a new movie coming out that’s about to cause further divisions between our team and film fandom as a whole. Expect this one to be controversial.
Dragged Across Concrete tells the story of a pair of crooked cops (played by Vince Vaughn and Mel Gibson) who decide to become robbers after they get suspended without pay for their strong-arm tactics. To make ends meet, they decide to pursue some out-of-town crooks with the intention of stealing their loot. However, in this world everyone is out to get paid, and the collision course between bad criminals and even worse cops isn’t going to end well for those involved.
Check out the trailer below:
A movie involving police brutality that stars two of Hollywood’s most well-known conservatives has naturally rubbed some people the wrong way. Zahler’s movies and novels are hardly beacons of progressive politics either, and Dragged Across Concrete will test the mileage of a substantial portion of its audience. Casting Gibson in a role like this, considering his past troubles with the law, will also be too on-the-nose for some folks. That’s understandable. At the same time, if you can look past his personal scandals, Gibson is still a talented onscreen performer whose grizzled attributes make him perfect for Zahler’s brand of hardboiled cinema.
I’ve been a Zahler fan since his debut novel, A Congregation of Jackals. His westerns and crime fiction, whether onscreen or on the page, take place in cruel, nihilistic, and morally ambiguous worlds that are populated with deeply flawed human beings. Concepts like good versus bad aren’t so clear cut, either. Most of his characters have both goodness and badness in them, but that’s what makes them so fascinating. They test my own moral quandaries then punch me right in the gut.
Having seen Dragged Across Concrete at this year’s Glasgow International Film Festival, I can confirm that it doesn’t deviate from these ideas at all. If anything, it’s Zahler’s most layered movie to-date and it will leave viewers with plenty to ponder. In this world, everyone has been dealt the shit end of the stick and they’ve strayed from the law-abiding path for reasons that Zahler does a great job of justifying. Viewers who are able to look past the film’s more politically incorrect moments — of which there are plenty — will likely sympathize with most of them to an extent. However, that’s what makes the inevitable bloodshed all the more conflicting.
The trailer really plays up the buddy cop aspect of the movie, and that’s certainly a huge part of it. Fans of Lethal Weapon will be happy to see Gibson back in his comfort zone as a wisecracking cop, and Zahler’s dime store detective novel dialogue gives him and Vaughn plenty of material to work with. Fans of Shane Black and even Quentin Tarantino will find plenty to enjoy here, even though Zahler’s still is unique in its own right.
Dragged Across Concrete is the type of neo noir-tinged pulp we don’t see enough of these days. And whether you love or hate his movies, Zahler is making a name for himself as one of the most original voices in contemporary genre cinema. This movie will split some hairs when it’s released this March, but pop culture discourse is more interesting when everyone has a strong opinion about the topic at hand.