In 2015, S. Craig Zahler first wowed audiences with his ultra-violent feature debut, the excellent western horror BONE TOMAHAWK. This movie pulses Sam Peckinpah through its cinematic veins. Then in 2017, he again blew his now fanbase away with a modern grindhouse movie with a beefed up Vince Vaughn called BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 (See this ASAP). Both films follow a similar method — slow burn with a hyper-violent, more than satisfying finale. So it’s expected that he would do it once again with his latest, DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE, which sadly has only one thing cool thing about it, and that’s its title.
DRAGGED is a simple heist movie that’s almost three hours long. A film like this needs to keep one’s attention for the duration of its superhero movies running time. Since it’s written and directed by Zahler, and stars two dudes who are fun to watch on film, one would think this movie would and should be a surefire hit.
DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE stars a calmed down Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn as cops who get fired for profiling and mistreating an alleged gangbanger. Both have fallen on hard times, so the duo decides to flip the script and rob some robbers with a large loot. Big, bang, boom, lots of runtime with nothing really happening, and then a big, underwhelming shootout ensues. This is DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE.
The underlying theme in this movie (as well as the title’s metaphor) and all Zahler’s films (and novels. Did you know he writes novels?) is desperation — it makes you empathize with the good-gone-bad characters because they are just trying to survive or get what’s deserved, and will do what they can to accomplish their goal. Usually this means there will be blood and lots of it.
Despite DRAGGED being upsettingly lousy, Zahler is still a new and exciting filmmaker who should make movies until death. He is, dare I say it, perhaps the next Tarantino (he’s got the witty dialogue and violence down, along with 2/3 good stories). Zahler is now hot Hollywood property, and some of the biggest names want to be a part of his stories (Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Vince Vaughn, and Mel Gibson to name a few.) Ridley Scott and Drew Goddard (THE CABIN IN THE WOODS and BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE, which clearly is inspired by Tarantino) are adapting Zahler’s first brutal novel Wraiths of the Broken Land into a feature film and it was just announced Zahler’s writing Park Chan-wook’s next film, an “ultra-violent film” called THE BRIGANDS OF RATTLECREEK.
Zahler is a maestro of slow burn payoffs (See BONE TOMAHAWK and BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 right. now. ), but DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE drags for almost three hours with no reward. With his history of storytelling, he should know the audience deserves an explosive finale after waiting that long with very little punchy dialogue and a few good scenes of hyper-violence (one so unnecessary, offensive, and cruel it completely ruined the movie for me). This movie does not do Zahler’s talents justice. It’s long and it’s, well, boring. S. Craig Zahler made a boring movie called DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE. That’s a sentence I never wanted to write.