“Dragged Across Concrete” is a crime-drama directed by S. Craig Zahler starring Vince Vaughn and Mel Gibson as a couple cops that get caught using excessive force during a routine bust. The video goes public, they get suspended, and turn to the criminal world to get some compensation for their years of work. Now to simply say I was excited for this film would be an understatement. I love crime-drama’s and slow-burn story-lines are never a deal breaker for me. I was also extremely curious about the pairing of Vaughn and Gibson, particularly them being placed in this tone of story. Added with all that was the appeal of S. Craig Zahler writing and directing who also did “Brawl on Cell Block 99” and “Bone Tomahawk” which were two films I loved.
All the pieces were in place for a tense home-run of a violent crime-drama. But unfortunately, while I enjoyed sections of the movie, the overall package was a big let-down. This wasn’t a horrible movie by any means. But right off the bat it was entirely too long at two and a half hours. It had the run-time of a Tarantino epic or a Scorsese crime film. However, it was missing the story layers to substantiate it. There was one scene after the other with Vaughn and Gibson simply talking in the car. The problem is the dialogue felt repetitive too often. Without a ton of substance to the conversations, once the traits of their personalities are learned, there doesn’t seem to be a need for so many more instances of banter in the car.
I do think early on the writing did a great job of capturing the relationship between them and their history together. But it didn’t go much further from there over the last couple hours of the story-line despite some fun natural chemistry between Vaughn and Gibson. I think the potential with these two being paired was endless but not nearly capitalized on. I could feel the sense of a slow-burning crime-drama with splashes of tension and suspense being the intention. I could feel the focus being on a methodical progression, but with surface-level depth to many of the plot-lines it ended up feeling mundane and with such a long run-time monotonous at times. I was maximum level excited to see this movie, but it was sadly tough to sit through. There are some solid story dynamics here, but they weren’t explored as detailed as they could have been. With too much filler that routinely killed any intensity it these story-lines would create.
Vaughn wasn’t able to disappear into this role like he did in ‘Brawl in Cell Block 99” and Gibson felt very much like Gibson. Both of their personality types worked for the needs of the roles in concept, but even they couldn’t carry so many minutes of idle chit-chat on stake-outs. Admittedly when the pace picks up, the energy of the film immediately does as well, but it doesn’t maintain itself. It was something that became frustrating for me after a couple hours. I did however enjoy the final act. It ramped up the action and blends in a subtle, dry sense-of-humor that I enjoyed seeing Vaughn and Gibson deliver. As I said I liked the story that was inside this script, but it needed to be condensed in many sections that would have been able to keep the intrigue consistently up where it should have been.
Once the violence hits it was a mixed-bag in my opinion. Gratuitous violence is a Zahler trait that hasn’t always worked for me in the past. It isn’t the level of gore he captures that misses the mark with me as much as the timing of it and the visual delivery. There was a scene in this film that could have really grabbed the heart strings but with a massive dose of violence with some practical-effects that don’t back it up, the final result was an emotionally gripping scene that felt unintentionally comical. There were a couple instances like this that did pull me out of things slightly. Other than those few moments the rest of the action and gun-play, when there was some was gritty and well-crafted. Overall though I just can’t help but feel this was a missed chance at winner. I like a slow pace but for me this one was too slow for what it was providing story-wise. I think some will enjoy it, but I was hoping for something much more emotionally investing. I enjoyed some of what Vaughn and Gibson accomplished with these roles, but the material was hindering their potential greatly. The story layers that are here were intriguing and if the filler was removed it could have been a much different movie and one that would be viewer friendly to a wider audience
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