After scrolling through Amazon Prime Video for what seemed like hours looking for something to watch, I said: “why not?” And gave S.Craig Zahler’s, Dragged Across Concrete another viewing. Like all of Zahler’s work to date, I remember really enjoying the film first time around for its rawness.
After my second viewing, I have to say that I enjoyed it even more. Zahler really doesn’t care about the censorship that plagues Hollywood. S. Craig Zahler has been writing for years and all of his content is bleak and nasty. I read recently that he said:
I always believed in my abilities as a writer, but the disparity between what I write and what is made in Hollywood is HUGE. This is very likely why I daily fight to push my scripts forward.S. Craig Zahler
Write what you think is good, refine it, send it out, and repeat for many years. Find a day job that is satisfying, and also lets your mind wander so that the only pressure you feel is to become a better writer, not ‘get rich in Hollywood’.
But that has never changed Zahler’s vicious style of writing. His movies are bleak and violent. The hero gets reduced to zero and nearly always dies. You feel by the end of one of his films that someone has stuck their hand through your chest and ripped out your beating heart. I am sure, at this stage, you all know my preferred taste: I ain’t a fan of happy endings. Well, I mean, there are some exceptions, but if it’s rated 18’s then…pretty much, I want everyone to die or get defeated. I wanna be thinking “fuck, what did I just watch?”. Zahler does this beautifully and viciously and with great grotesque detail.
Dragged Across Concrete is no different. Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn star as two cops who were caught on video standing on the neck of a Mexican suspect. Their actions got them suspended and their faces are all over the news. One of them has a plan: rob a drug dealer, steal their money and sort out their financial difficulties.
The rest of this review will contain spoilers for Dragged Across Concrete. So, if you haven’t seen the movie…stop reading. You have been warned.
I love how Zahler introduces us to characters just so we can find a connection, learn to love, hate or even sympathise with them. Then, boom! Out of nowhere, they get killed, and usually in a horribly violent way.
Like Jennifer Carpenter’s small part in Dragged Across Concrete. She plays a mother of a newborn child but is also suffering from agoraphobia or not wanting to leave her child alone.
We see her try and get on the bus but she freaks out and walks back to her apartment. When she arrives, her boyfriend or husband has put the chain on the door to stop her from getting in. He reassures her that everything is going to be ok, and their baby, Jackson will still be there waiting for her when she gets home from her shift at the bank.
As the viewer, Zahler makes us think she is an important character to develop the story. Then when she arrives at work, she is met with presents and cupcakes from her colleagues to celebrate the birth of her baby boy. But HOLY SHIT! she doesn’t even get behind the counter of the bank. She has her fingers blown off and when she reaches into her pocket to pull out her baby’s little shoe, BANG! Poor Jennifer Carpenter is mowed down without thought or hesitation.
Just by slaying Capernter’s character, us, the viewer is left feeling uncomfortable.
Because it ain’t just her we are feeling bad for. It is her husband and her child. Her husband will never forgive himself for chaining that door and will be a man of regret, sorrow and what if’s. The baby will grow up without her mother and more than likely with a very unstable and mentally ill father who blames himself for the death of his child’s mother.
Vaughn’s character is the same. Throughout the movie we see him trying to build the courage to ask his girlfriend to marry him. Then, just as he is about to die, he gets his answer on voicemail: NO! she blows him out like snot. Again, you’re left feeling really bad for him.
Gibson’s character is also dealing with tremendous stress at home. His young teenage daughter is repeatedly attacked by a group of thugs. His wife is also heavily medicated and suffering from MS
Also, we know how cold the killer is at the exact moment he enters a convenience store near the start of the movie. He has no problem pulling the trigger, in fact, it looks like he enjoys it. He kills the cashier and also some poor random guy who does nothing other than walk into the store. Then, for absolutely no reason at all…he kills the soft drinks, sweets, tv and exits the store as if he was just in paying for a packet of chewing gum.