S. Craig Zahler has carved out a pretty identifiable niche for himself: brutal, bleakly comic dramas that entertain via weird dialogue, strong performances, and extreme violence, laced through with a worldview representing the bleakest right-wing fantasies you could imagine. His debut Bone Tomahawk saw Kurt Russell killing a bunch of savagely cannibalistic Native Americans. Brawl In Cell Block 99 saw a ridiculously brutish Vince Vaughn getting "justice" through violent retribution in the most punitive prison scenarios imaginable. And now Dragged Across Concrete sees Vaughn and Mel Gibson playing crooked cops who dive into the criminal underworld when they're suspended for assaulting someone on video.
Here's the trailer:
Not much of a hint of the actual storyline here, which is probably for the best if production company Cinestate wants this to play in theatres without riots breaking out. We get Gibson and Vaughn being faintly droll crooked cops, we get glimpses at a world of crime, and that's about it. Honestly, it's not a great trailer, but then the standout parts of Zahler's films are definitely not trailer-friendly.
I loved Bone Tomahawk when it premiered - so much so that I watched it twice that day. I even enjoyed Brawl, for its ridiculous commitment to a bit, while acknowledging its thematic repellence. Cinestate's rather good non-Zahler film Standoff At Sparrow Creek actually manages to tell a story about a militia pretty neutrally, focusing entirely on the internal power struggles in the group. I won't be seeing Dragged Across Concrete, however, despite some favourable reviews. Zahler's thematic interests have solidified enough now, each successive film throwing the others into a clearer, worse light, that it's not even fun to gawp at how wrong-headed it is anymore. I'm happy for him to continue making '80s vigilante movies, in the present day, with better dialogue. But that doesn't mean I have to like them.
You might disagree with me! And you're free to. Let us know in the comments.