Film Review: Dragged Across Concrete

S. Craig Zahler’s latest film Dragged Across Concrete is uncomfortable yet often enthralling viewing. 

Two cops get suspended from the police force for using excessive force. The pair decide to descend into the criminal underworld in order to get compensation, but the payday is anything but simple…

Ostensibly a crime thriller, with a two hour thirty-nine minute run time, Dragged Across Concrete is a sprawling tale of various parties with eyes on a big prize. Writer-director S. Craig Zahler’s film does not follow a predictable path. Instead red herrings are dropped, as audience are taken on a diverging journey.  

The optics of protagonists who are racist cops aren’t great. But perhaps this is the point. Dragged Across Concrete gives no comfortable heroes to root for. Instead there are only villains of varying degrees, and victims of little consequence. Is the message of Zahler’s film is that it is ok to be onside with the least worst? This is unclear. Despite some good dialogue elsewhere, there is a stilted scene in the police lieutenant’s office which seems to solely project a view of the tired “pc gone mad” diatribe. The impression given is that cops aren’t meant to be the heroes here, other mindsets may place them as anti-heroes however. This is an uncomfortable balance. Nevertheless, there is plenty to ruminate on. 

There are a few sets of characters, none of which are archetypal heroes. Instead the spectrum ranges from the flawed, necessity-based criminal to the out-and-out villain. Yet the villain does not fill the role expected. The showdown is something else, with a good deal of tension, despite the duration. With characters trying to outwit each other, it is not clear who will come out on top. 

There are several violent sequence, but less of the prolonged brutality viewers may expect after Brawl in Cell Block 99 and Bone Tomahawk. The sound design is a definite bonus. Vince Vaughan delivers a solid performance. Tory Kittles also stands out. The role of Richmond made more uncomfortable given Mel Gibson’s history. 

Dragged Across Concrete gives viewers plenty to mull over. As a director, Zahler has delivered his third solid film.

LFF 2017 Highlights Part 2

With the BFI London Film Festival drawing to a close this evening, it has been another year of some very good films, and a few excellent ones. The best films of the first week of the festival can be viewed here. Below are some LFF 2017 highlights from the second half of the festival…

LFF 2017 Highlights – Unmissable

You Were Never Really Here

Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here is tense, black, and redemptive. It is anxiety-inducing, gripping filmmaking. amplifies conventions of a psychological thriller, combining these with a revenge flick. READ MORE

Brawl in Cell Block 99

S. Craig Zahler’s Brawl in Cell Block 99 is a brutal action thriller with a great central performance from Vince Vaughn. It is certainly not a film for the faint of heart. The violence is exceptional. It is wince-inducing, and sometimes harrowing. READ MORE

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Martin McDonagh’s black comedy drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is well-written, well performed, and thoroughly engaging. The cast have an excellent screenplay to work with. The dialogue is great, and always appears natural. READ MORE

LFF 2017 Highlights – The Best of the Rest

The Shape of Water

Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi fairy tale The Shape of Water is at times beguiling, at times surprising, and a joy to watch. From the first shot of the film, spectacle is almost assured. And the film does not disappoint in this respect. READ MORE

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a macabre tale which offers the requisite tension and horror. The film is reminiscent of an Edgar Allan Poe story, albeit one rendered in a very contemporary fashion. Lanthimos’ skill here is the ramping of the tension, leading to some awful realisations. READ MORE

The Florida Project

Sean Baker’s The Florida Project is a bittersweet drama. The film is a great exploration of childhood in challenging circumstances. It is frequently humorous, without detracting its the poignancy. READ MORE

Lucky

Directed by John Lynch Carroll and starring Harry Dean Stanton in his second and final leading role, Lucky feels like an ode to character actors. Lucky is highly amusing and will give pause for thought. READ MORE

The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales

Patrick Imbert and Benjamin Renner’s The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales is a collection of most amusing stories. Each of the three stories is a neat length; long enough to feature a decent narrative, but short enough to feel sprightly. READ MORE

Thelma

Director and co-writer Joachim Trier’s Thelma is an engaging psychological thriller. The film offers a strong element of mystery. It straddles the uncanny; for a significant period it is unclear whether the strange occurrences are supernatural, or whether there is a rational explanation. READ MORE

Princess Cyd

Stephen Cone’s Princess Cyd is an alluring character study. What could have been a derivative teenage drama turns into something much more textured and rewarding. READ MORE

The BFI London Film Festival ran from 4th to 15th October 2017.

Film Review: Brawl in Cell Block 99

S. Craig Zahler’s Brawl in Cell Block 99 is a brutal action thriller with a great central performance from Vince Vaughn. It is certainly not a film for the faint of heart.

After getting fired from his job, Bradley Thomas sees becoming a drug runner as a solution to his financial situation. With his wife Lauren pregnant Continue reading “Film Review: Brawl in Cell Block 99”