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Dragged Across Concrete Movie Review

'Concrete' Drags

There's an undeniable style that director S. Craig Zahler brings to "Dragged Across Concrete," which plays like a 1970s grindhouse slow-burn, tailor-made for late nights at the drive-in. His first two features, "Bone Tomahawk" and "Brawl in Cell Block 99," garnered a great deal of acclaim, but his latest feels like a bit of a step down from the good faith and momentum generated from his first two movies.

Zahler's films are small in scope and production but are able to find a niche audience that revels in the fetishistic throwback to violent pulp films of years gone by. "Dragged Across Concrete" won't play on every screen in the country, but those who gave "Brawl in Cell Block 99" a bit of a life at home will find similar pleasures in what his new film has to offer.

Brett (Mel Gibson) and Anthony (Vince Vaughn, who also starred in "Brawl in Cell Block 99") are two detectives who find themselves in trouble when a video of them aggressively and abusively apprehending a drug dealer goes viral. Brett and Anthony are both suspended, pending an investigation of their behavior, which throws a wrench into their personal lives and leaves them needing money. Brett devises a plan to track down a drug dealer and rob him and persuades Anthony to join him on staking out their target, which he does reluctantly.

A large portion of "Dragged Across Concrete" is sitting in with Brett and Anthony on their stakeout, which, as you could imagine, doesn't exactly make for riveting cinema, but there is a lot more going on around them. Ex-convict Henry Johns (Tory Kittles), who is fresh out of jail, checks in with his younger brother and mother before helping to stage a bank heist and slipping back into his crime life. Before it converges, Henry's storyline feels separate from Brett and Anthony's, which makes most of "Dragged Across Concrete" feel unfocused.

Zahler takes his time with his movies, and at 158 minutes, "Dragged Across Concrete" is his longest film yet. There's reward to be had in an effective slow-burn, but "Dragged Across Concrete" feels like a 90-minute movie stretched over two-and-a-half hours. Zahler's screenplay is unabashedly relaxed and unhurried but the movie feels like it takes its time to go nowhere. Once the movie ends, it begs the question if the journey with two unlikable detectives was worth going on.

Amidst the violence and sporadic mayhem, there are some interesting talking points that Zahler brings up but never fully dives into because he is not interested in making a message movie. That's fine - it's a choice on his behalf, and with three features he is carving a specific mold. As "Dragged Across Concrete" rambles on (there's a useless subplot with Jennifer Carpenter as a bank employee and estranged mother that adds nothing to the story), it becomes more evident that an interesting movie is desperate to get out, which ultimately distracts from what Zahler is trying to achieve. 

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