(NON) PIC of the Week – Dragged Across Concrete
Article series by Ray Schillaci
Okay, there are some worthy titles out there for you to catch. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s Miss Bala has Gina Rodriguez as the title character braving the dangerous world of cross-border crime, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment gives us Mads Mikkelsen in another cooler thriller, Arctic, that delivers more intensity than his Netflix original, Polar. But, for once I have go to the extreme opposite because I was so flabbergasted when I picked up Lionsgate’s Blu of Dragged Across Concrete.
I was so hyped about this upcoming S. Craig Zahler film starring Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn that I wrote about it early on. The idea of those two playing dirty cops, and writer/director Zahler having given us both the gritty Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99 was a can’t miss hit. Or, has it ended up being a misfire at 2 hours and 39 minutes long?
The film will have its share of haters for good reason (me being one of them), but the amount of admirers is somewhat stunning unless it’s a sign of the times, where people are tired of the political correctness being shoved down their throats as Zahler delivers a big fat FU to a society that has become ultra-sensitive. I don’t mind the idea of that. In fact, some of Gibson and Vaughn’s banter is as unique as it is refreshing, but the film consistently feels like it needed a good editor.
Pauses are too long. A very jarring, disjointed storyline. And, acts of violence become senseless and near pornographic. I’m no prude, but some of the scenes never needed to be in the movie or any other film. They are only in it for shock value. All of this makes what could have been a very promising exploitation piece a boring, inconsistent and exhausting mess.
You can love the dialogue, admire the writer/director’s intentions, but if you take a good hard look, this film does not even come close to Zahler’s other films. Whatever transitioning the man does with his characters and their stories is handled so clumsy. From Henry Johns’ (Tory Kittles) intro just out of prison, meeting up with his handicap brother and mother-turned-prostitute, then to Gibson and Vaughn’s Ridgeman and Lurasetti and their dirty arrest of a drug dealer caught on video and exposing their rough housing on the web and TV. They get suspended, and Ridgeman goes looking for alternative finances, mainly taking some dirty money from a drug dealer or other scoundrel outside his turf.
That storyline goes on so long that we almost forget about Henry Johns and what he may even be up to. An hour or so later, we get Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter, The Enemy Within) as Kelly Summer, bank employee and new mother, just off maternity leave. Her story is so suddenly crammed into the film that I thought I was somehow watching another movie. I literally thought there was something wrong with the disc.
To make matters worse, as Kelly arrives at the bank she is greeted by the bank manager, played by Fred Melamed who delivers one of the most (comical?) awkward performances I’ve seen in a movie in years. I could not tell for the life of me if he was suppose to be comic relief with no reason for the relief or just being asked to overact or ham it up. It was literally worse than watching a bad actor in little theater.
All that aside, Carpenter has less than fifteen minutes of screen time and I couldn’t help wonder why she wasted her talent and time, and why our time was wasted with her character intro other than to state that (spoiler alert) bank robbers can be ruthless. Her character basically came across like a tool for a lazy writer.
Speaking of wasted talent, Don Johnson pops in for a cameo trying to give as much depth as he can as a police chief delivering bad news to both Gibson and Vaughn. He and Carpenter can only be looked at as names to place on the marquee or as a selling point for the film. As it stands, the film received a very limited theatrical run. Even less than Gibson’s Blood Father, which was a far superior Gibson film.
I cannot see why there are people standing by this film. Are they hoping for more gratuitous violence, another means of pushing the envelope? Yes, we (Mel fans) can be thankful to see him in such a harsh role and matched up with Vaughn who was so great in Zahler’s other film. But, at what cost? Choppy storyline, senseless violence, a movie that needs to be cut by at least forty minutes? Perhaps I should just state the obvious, I’ve been sorely disappointed, and only hope that someone has better control over the writer/director so he can put something really worthy out.
This 1080p picture is nothing to crow about. Night scenes are grainy, but that’s probably the intention of the director and his Director of Photography. There’s a bluish tint that Zahler and his DP favor that they used quite extensively on their previous film, Brawl. The lot matches the grim view of Zahler’s characters.
Audio wise, you have a nice DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound that captures the luster and mood, especially with the funky soundtrack. Every torturous moment is captured with clarity, unfortunately. Dialogue appears clear enough, and surround is effective.
This one I would definitely suggest renting before any thoughts of a purchase if your an avid Gibson and/or Zahler fan.
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