“Dragged Across Concrete” (R) *** and a half
ON April 30, an American TV channel started screening a three-part documentary about the making of writer/director S Craig Zahler’s third feature film.
Mel Gibson plays Ridgeman, a 40-year veteran police detective whose wife is crippled by muscular dystrophy. In the film’s opening sequence, he and his junior by 20 years partner Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn) spend a night outside a suspect’s apartment before making an arrest.
Next day, press reports criticise their methods. Their chief suspends them without pay for six weeks pending an investigation. Ridgeman chafes at the inactivity and Lurasetti has just paid for an engagement ring.
The film’s main plot begins on a morning when Ridgeman and Lurasetti are cruising in the former’s car, equipped for whatever crime they find as if their police authority still stands. They find a bank heist, meticulously organised, ruthlessly implemented by three masked robbers. After a quiet, even gentle, beginning, the chase is on.
To Zahler’s credit, “Dragged Across Concrete” avoids most of the clichés in the Hollywood cop movie handbook. The day drags on during a cautious pursuit of the robbers. It is, somewhat inexplicably, well after nightfall before the van carrying them, two hired black drivers in whiteface and four holdall bags carrying gold bullion, arrives at the dilapidated gas station where the next getaway car is waiting.
Most of the film unfolds as the two cops wait and observe. The wait is by no means boring, merely a tad tedious. The denouement is violent as the body count grows. The piece is well played, credibly staged. The coda doesn’t follow the usual path.
Why the “R” classification? Perhaps an evisceration sequence more comically gruesome than what a reasonable adult might consider to be “frequently gratuitous, cruel, exploitative and offensive violence”, but no drugs, sex or “obvious genital contact” (the quoted no-nos are from the Australian Classification Board’s website.)
I wouldn’t mind seeing that “making-of” documentary.