The story follows the tandem of detectives consisting of old guard Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and his younger partner Anthony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn), who were suspended for excessive use of force during an operation. The suspension worsens their bad financial situation, so the exasperated Ridgeman decides to take matters into his own hands, in order to collect all that was not in previous years.
In addition to the two of them, we also follow Henry Jones (Tory Kittles), who is free again after spending time in prison. He comes home and notices that his mother and brother are living in poverty, which will drive him to crime. A longtime friend introduces him to a ruthless criminal whose plans will bring Henry directly into conflict with the detectives. We don’t immediately learn why Henry ended up in prison, but we will understand that even then he was a victim of misdirected selflessness, so to speak.
Although this film also has violence as its main drive, I can’t say that it is as exploitative as Brawl in Cell Block 99. On the other hand, it is similar to it because the author usually shoots shots with a still camera and there is no soundtrack when it is expected. In both cases, it is impossible to get away from the nihilistic impression that the works leave, as if the author has such a view of all humanity – he divides human beings into predators and prey, which is certainly not too comforting. Dragged Across Concrete has no positives because everyone is complicit in the violence that takes place, and that violence goes from simple to almost grotesque, without any warning.
What I liked is that the author does not ask us to sympathize with the characters, but wants us to understand what made them make the decisions they made. On the face of it, it’s all about the money, but beneath the surface there is a strong need to make things better, not for them, but for the people they are close to. Their methods cross both legal and moral boundaries, but everything is understandable to us because of the motive that drives them – we don’t have to like them, and the author has no intention of making us like them.
Dragged Across Concrete has a straightforward, simple story, but it is a meticulously crafted thriller that puts on one side criminals whose actions are almost inhuman, and on the other side people who do not shy away from violence, but their goals are human (or at least have the appearance of humanity). Zaler made maximum use of the author’s freedom and stretched the film to almost 160 minutes, which I did not take as a minus. The plot arrives quite late, but during that time we get to know the motives of the three characters, understand their life situations and observe the detective’s routine surveillance. Apart from the scenes with them, we witness the totally inhuman endeavors of criminals, whose cruelty knows no bounds.
Vince Vaughn showed the script for this film to Mel Gibson on the set of Hacksaw Ridge, who immediately agreed. The two are interesting to watch and complement each other nicely. Mel’s character is mostly percentages about odds and probabilities and is prepared for potential horror, while Mel’s character has a certain purity of character that is not prepared for what is about to happen. Don Johnson, Jennifer Carpenter and Udo Kier appear in supporting roles, who, compared to my expectations, are not on the screen much.