Dragged Across Concrete is a film I was really looking forward to watching, particularly because Brawl In Cell Block 99 completely blew me away.
Not only was Brawl… a fantastic plot-driven piece with some juicy 18-certificate violence where required, but it also changed the way I thought about Vince Vaughn. I only knew him for his endless, crappy ‘comedies’, but this film showed us that drama is where his strengths lie. This often tends to be the case with comedians.
Remember how Lenny Henry was funny in the ’80s, but completely STOPPED being funny when the ’80s ended? But with one-off Screen One drama Alive And Kicking, and especially his turn as headmaster Ian George in the 1999/2000 series Hope & Glory, he really showed promise. Since then, he’s never had a lead role that’s snared me in, but those are both well worth watching if you get the chance.
But back to this, and after a drugs bust goes rather awry, cops Anthony Lurasetti (Vaughn) and Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) – the latter who’s one month away from turning 60, and so is getting rather tired of pounding the pavements, or ‘scuffing concrete’ as his superior, Chief Lt. Calvert (Don Johnson) – with whom he has history, refers to it. In fact, Ridgeman is pissed off because his police work has never been recognised, simply because he does rub shoulders with the right people, meaning his face doesn’t fit, but now they’re suspended, the plan is to start stalking a drug dealer with a view to ripping him off and, meanwhile, there’s a bloke going round murdering innocent people.
When they discuss whether the job requires killing anyone, Ridgeman says no, and Lurasetti says “That boundary is reinforced in steel concrete”, to which Ridgeman agrees. So, the title of the movie is more a metaphor than ‘say what you see’.
As well as Mr Johnson, Brawl…’s Jennifer Carpenter also comes into it, around halfway through the film, as Kelly, who’s on her first day back in work following the birth of her new baby. Elsewhere, I like how Ridgeman always gives a percentage for the success or failure of how things will turn out.
And as an aside, I like an earlier scene when a high-pitched singer is heard in a song being played in a cafe frequented by the two leads:
- Brett (curiously): “Is this a guy or a girl singing this song?”
Anthony: “…..Can’t tell.”
Overall, Dragged Across Concrete has great acting, story, and directing. On the one hand, it does feel a bit of a slim story, but that could be that it’s just following one straight storyline from start to finish… or maybe a second viewing is in order? 😀
Yes, 159 minutes is a long running time, but it actually benefits this movie, as it allows backstory to play out like that of Kelly’s, for example. There’s other scenes – and I won’t go into detail so as to avoid spoilers, so I’ll just say one involves a stakeout – which would be made shorter by most directors, but my thoughts were brought up in one of the ‘making of’ extras, about how they want to spend more time with the characters “for as long as it’s interesting”, so you get a lot of little off-the-cuff moments at times which are just superb.
This all reminds me of when Quentin Tarantino was at his height, with films like Pulp Fiction. Given the strengths shown here, and that we’re going through what I class as a new golden age of television, writer/director S Craig Zahler should really write a full TV series and allow a long story to play out through that. Come on, Netflix, get it funded!
The extras in Dragged Across Concrete are as follows:
- Elements Of A Crime (48:03): This main extra is split into three sections, and as it states at the start, this feature should ONLY be watched AFTER you have seen the film, because it will give spoilers.
As you’d expect, it’s mostly people saying they loved working with everyone else, but you can definitely feel that that is the case here, since it can’t have been an easy film to make – or at least without a lot of preparation, and everyone played a blinder with it.
There’s interesting comments about how they lit the individual sets for the two leads’ home scenes and towns separately.
This is also much better-chaptered than the film, since there’s only 12 chapters to the film, but 9 for this extra.
After the three parts comes the 7-minute piece Moral Conflict: Creating Cinema That Challenges In A Blockbuster World, which discusses how it’s difficult to get screen time for films like indie movies which make you think, rather than standard traditional blockbuster fare, and I know I’m certainly getting fed up of the latter.
The main menu features clips from the film to a piece of the score. Subtitles are in English only and there’s the bog-standard 12 chapters, although I go by the rule of thumb of one every five minutes, so that would make 32 by my book.
Running time: 159 minutes
Released: August 19th 2019
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS 5.1 HD-MA
Subtitles: English SDH
Widescreen: 2.39:1 (Redcode RAW (8K), Anamorphic Master Scope)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: S Craig Zahler
Producers: Sefton Fincham, Jack Heller, Tyler Jackson, Keith KjarvalDallas Sonnier
Screenplay: S Craig Zahler
Music: Jeff Herriott, The O’Jays, S Craig Zahler
Anthony Lurasetti: Vince Vaughn
Brett Ridgeman: Mel Gibson
Henry Johns: Tory Kittles
Biscuit: Michael Jai White
Lorentz Vogelmann: Thomas Kretschmann
Kelly Summer: Jennifer Carpenter
Melanie Ridgeman: Laurie Holden
Chief Lt. Calvert: Don Johnson
Friedrich: Udo Kier
Mr. Edmington: Fred Melamed
Cheryl: Justine Warrington
Grey Gloves: Matthew MacCaull
Black Gloves: Primo Allon
Sara Ridgeman: Jordyn Ashley Olson
Ethan Johns: Myles Truitt
Jennifer Johns: Vanessa Bell Calloway
Denise: Tattiawna Jones
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.