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Dragged Across Concrete (2018)

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Once two overzealous cops get suspended from the force, they must delve into the criminal underworld to get their proper compensation.

Director:

S. Craig Zahler

Writer:

S. Craig Zahler
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Mel Gibson ... Brett Ridgeman
Vince Vaughn ... Anthony Lurasetti
Tory Kittles ... Henry Johns
Michael Jai White ... Biscuit
Thomas Kretschmann ... Lorentz Vogelmann
Jennifer Carpenter ... Kelly Summer
Laurie Holden ... Melanie Ridgeman
Don Johnson ... Chief Lt. Calvert
Udo Kier ... Friedrich
Fred Melamed ... Mr. Edmington
Justine Warrington ... Cheryl
Matthew MacCaull ... Grey Gloves
Primo Allon ... Black Gloves
Jordyn Ashley Olson Jordyn Ashley Olson ... Sara Ridgeman
Myles Truitt ... Ethan Johns
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Storyline

The script centers on two policemen, one an old-timer (Gibson), the other his volatile younger partner (Vaughn), who find themselves suspended when a video of their strong-arm tactics become the media's cause du jour. Low on cash and with no other options, these two embittered soldiers descend into the criminal underworld to gain their just due, but instead find far more than they wanted awaiting them in the shadows.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Those Who Can't Earn A Living Must Find Another Way To Provide.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence, grisly images, language, and some sexuality/nudity. | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Canada | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 March 2019 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dragged Across Concrete See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to many associated with the production, it was long thought that this film would have a wide theatrical release in the US. However, it was rumored that Lionsgate requested the film be edited down to an "audience friendly" 130 minutes which was met with much disdain from director, S. Craig Zahler. Considering his final cut clause in his contract, Lionsgate opted to release the film in a limited theatrical run and same day digital through Summit Entertainment, mirroring the other Zahler releases. The film stands uncut and unedited at 159 minutes. See more »

Goofs

When Henry Johns and his brother play a video game, the controllers(PS4) are not switched on. See more »

Quotes

Black Gloved Robber: [Plays recording] Mr. Edmington.
Mr. Edmington: Sir.
Black Gloved Robber: [Plays recording] Are there any employees in the back? If so please bring bring them to the front.
Mr. Edmington: No. There are no employees in the back
Black Gloved Robber: [Plays recording] Are you sure of this response? You seem uncertain.
Mr. Edmington: No, no. I'm quite sure.
Black Gloved Robber: [Plays recording] We will accept this response. Be advised if you are mistaken your testicals will be cut off with this.
[Gray Gloved Robber pulls out a knife]
Mr. Edmington: Please, lets not talk about anything rash.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Moral Conflict: Creating Cinema That Challenges (2019) See more »

Soundtracks

Four-Legged Survivor
Written by Jeff Herriott & S. Craig Zahler
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Ugly, crude, morally questionable , thoroughly enjoyable
13 May 2019 | by BertautSee all my reviews

Dragged Across Concrete is the third film from writer/director S. Craig Zahler, after the superb horror-western Bone Tomahawk (2015) and the fatalistic but excellent prison drama Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017), films which represent a throwback to true Grindhouse. Synthesising disparate genres, and featuring sudden and often extreme violence, both are methodically paced (132 minutes each) and emotionally dark. In Dragged, the gore has been toned down (although not the violence), the nihilistic worldview made more apparent, the genre mashup more complex, and the pace more languorous (a whopping 159 minutes). And much like them, Dragged is morally repugnant, ugly and stoical in equal measure, both exploitative and demoralising. And immensely enjoyable.

Set in the fictional city of Bulwark, the film follows three main stories. In one, Henry Johns (an excellent Tory Kittles) returns home from prison to find his mother (Vanessa Bell Calloway) turning tricks in her bedroom, whilst his wheel-chair-confined younger brother Ethan (Myles Truitt) is kept quiet with videogames. In the second story, Det. Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and Det. Anthony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn) are suspended without pay by their boss, Ridgeman's ex-partner, Lt. Calvert (Don Johnson, still effortlessly cool), after Ridgeman is filmed standing on the head of a Latino drug dealer during an arrest. As Ridgeman wants to move his family out of the bad part of town in which they live, where his daughter Sara (Jordyn Ashley Olson) is being harassed by a local gang, and his wife Melanie (Laurie Holden), a former cop now suffering from MS, is miserable, he decides he's done playing by the rules. The third story sees Kelly Summer (a superb Jennifer Carpenter) reluctantly returning to work after maternity leave, despite suffering from severe separation anxiety.

Narratively, although Dragged is easily Zahler's most densely plotted film, much like his previous work, it's predicated on character rather than story, spending a lot of time on conversations that do little to advance the plot, but add layer upon layer of character information (think the "royale with cheese" scene from Pulp Fiction (1994)). No spoilers, but one subplot in particular benefits greatly from this technique, so that when it erupts in sickening violence, the emotional impact is all the stronger, because we've gotten to know the person; think of the character of Breedan (Dennis Haysbert) in Michael Mann's Heat (1995), a subplot that hits as emotionally hard as it does because Mann spends so much time introducing us to characters who seemingly have nothing to do with the rest of the film. Same idea in Dragged.

The script is also dynamite from start to finish, with some fantastic lines sounding like they were ripped directly from Michael Mann; Johns, for example, says at one point, "before I consider that kind of vocation, I need to get myself acclimated", whilst he reminds Ethan, "pops is a yesterday who ain't worth words". This kind of highly expressive overly literal way of speaking is exactly the way the aforementioned Breedan speaks or Frank (James Caan) in Thief (1981). This kind of dialogue keeps things lively, but it also illuminates character; Lurasetti, for example, is the more laidback of the two cops, saying things such as, "it's bad like lasagne in a can", which is not the kind of simile one would image Ridgeman coming up with.

Aesthetically, working with his regular cinematographer, Benji Bakshi, Zahler stages most of the film either at night or in shadows (or both), so much so that a central scene in a well-lit building in the middle of the day seems washed out and garish by comparison. Brian Davie's production design is also worth mentioning, with the characters' living spaces completely soulless, all muted neutralising colours and generic furnishings, like they've moved into a showroom and haven't bothered to bring their own stuff or repaint.

Wearing his influences very much on his sleeve (directors such as Jules Dassin, Don Siegel, and Jean-Pierre Melville; and novelists such as Charles Willeford and George V. Higgins), given what his films say about masculinity and violence, it's no surprise that Zahler is seen as a quintessential right-wing filmmaker in a very left-leaning Hollywood. Although he claims he's not interested in politics, and asserts that he didn't vote for Trump in 2016, nor does he plan to do so in 2020, the Daily Beast still referred to him as "the Hollywood filmmaker making movies for the MAGA crowd", which is not only reductionist, it's not even accurate, as there is nothing in his films to suggest he subscribes to Trump's hateful and divisive rhetoric (it is possible, after all, for one to be a right-wing conservative without being an advocate of Trump's self-serving politics).

That said, if Zahler isn't explicitly engaging in socio-political commentary in Dragged, then he is epically trolling and baiting outrage culture. This is a film partly about two racist cops who complain about political correctness, trial by social media, and metrosexuality (amongst other things), and who use (gun) violence to try to set their world to rights, and they are played by noted Hollywood conservatives Mel Gibson (he of the 2006 anti-Semitic rant and the 2010 racism controversy), and Vince Vaughan, who rather amusingly believes the way to tackle gun violence in the US, is to introduce more guns (no, really). The casting seems like provocation, and one can imagine Zahler getting considerable satisfaction from watching SJWs losing their minds trying to parse the metatextuality of it all (and the fact that there are so many one and two star (and one and two sentence) 'reviews' on here from accounts clearly set up just to trash the film without having seen it, would suggest he has very much succeeded in getting under someone's skin).

However, it's in relation to this point where Dragged is most open to divergent interpretations. Namely, does Zahler simply depict the characters' racist and misogynistic antics, or does he sympathise with their toxic mindset? True, he certainly doesn't outright condone their behaviour and opinions, but neither does he outright condemn them. Neither man is presented as a hero, but neither is presented as a villain either.

Despite his claims that the film is apolitical, it's hard to deny that some of the dialogue has a political flavour. So, for example, Calvert states that "being branded a racist in today's public forum is like being accused of being a communist in the 50s, whether it's a possibly racist remark made in a private phone call or the indelicate treatment of a minority who sells drugs to children. The entertainment industry, formerly known as the news, needs villains." This comment also calls to mind Trump's never-ending refrain of "fake news". Another example is when Melanie says, "I never thought I was a racist before living in this area." That's a hell of a loaded statement in a film that's apparently not interested in race relations.

Moving away from racial issues, Ridgeman laments to Calvert, "for a lot of years I believed that the quality of my work, what we do together, what I did with my previous partners, would get me what I deserved. But I don't politic and I don't change with the times, and it turns out that's more important than good honest work. So yesterday, after we stop a massive amount of drugs from getting into the school system, we get suspended because we didn't do it politely." It's hard not to hear Zahler behind such an impassioned sentiment, someone who may believe (and may be correct) that PC culture has gotten to a point of unworkable absurdity.

There's also the issue of (perceived) misogyny in his work. All three of his films depict relatively helpless women who must be saved from evil men by righteous men, so does Zahler himself think of women in this way, as inherent victims who require men's protection, or is he simply able to understand such a mindset?

The line between critical commentary and ideological endorsement is razor thin, and it's a line that Zahler walks throughout. Which is one of the things that makes the film so fascinating. This is the first film he's made that's more likely to alienate audiences because of its ideology than its violence, as he takes risks here that other filmmakers would never dream of, resulting in his most politically interesting and ideologically complex film thus far.

Easily dismissible as a right-wing manifesto, there is much more going on than such binary politics would suggest. It's certainly more to the right than the vast majority of Hollywood output, and there is a case to be made that Zahler is positioning himself as a conservative ideologue railing against cookie-cutter Hollywood political correctness. That doesn't necessarily mean, however, that he's avowing a white supremacist doctrine, or that the film is a hate-filled alt-right diatribe, a paean to intolerance. This is not a message movie; it's a Grindhouse B-movie character piece. It's a little self-indulgent. It's unapologetically incendiary. It's possibly offensive. You may see it as shining a not unwelcome light on a culture of inherent racial intolerance in law enforcement. You may see it as commenting on a world where women are expected to be mothers and full-time workers. You may find it appallingly racist itself. You may shake your head at its endemic misogyny. And that ambiguity, more than anything else, speaks to its quality as a provocative work of art.


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