North American Premiere
The S. Craig Zahler returns to Beyond Fest with his most assured, deliberate, and provocative film to date, the indomitable DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE. White hot on the heels of the spectacular pugilism of BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99, Zahler closes out a triptych of blunt force trauma that hasn’t been witnessed since the sweaty grit of Peckinpah and Schrader at their most muscular peaks.
DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE follows the well-heeled path of two suspended cops, Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn), as they attempt to subvert a bank heist for private gain. As is the case with all things Zahler, best-made plans don’t transpire as they should resulting in murder, mutilation and a script that divides, conquers and challenges from the opening shot. For all of its epic 158 minutes, Zahler expertly immerses us in a world that is far closer to our own than we care to admit: a toxic and unpretentious environment where good and evil are rife and indistinguishable – akin to the one you’ll find on the doorstep of our theater. It is also a world where violence is currency and Zahler owns the fucking bank.
Like Holden and Borgnine in THE WILD BUNCH, Ridgeman and Lurasetti are men who are out of place and out of time, both literally and figuratively. While their actions are (mostly) honorable, their views are (routinely) grotesque, establishing a paradigm that distorts who we want and believe these people to be: make no mistake, these are bad men doing bad things, however, we willfully embrace them as the lesser of evils presented.
While this is Zahler’s film, Gibson and Vaughn give him all of the ammunition he needs and more. Vaughn picks up exactly where he left off in BRAWL with a flawless performance that is more languid than his last but no less potent. Similarly, Gibson is at his absolute best as a man beaten by correctness and a system that rightfully no longer has a place for him. It’s a deliberately bold role that’s inherently visceral by nature, and, in collusion with his director, forces you to reconcile your own posture from opening shot to the epic blood-soaked finale.
These characters simply don’t exist anymore, long gone are the iconic antiheroes personified by the Thunderbolt’s and Lightfoot’s of Cimino’s 70’s. Rather than let them fade to black, Zahler has dug deep into the exploitative playground he loves so much to gift them new life and blur all distinction between the preconceived notions of right and wrong, good and bad. It’s a tightrope he walks, but like his leads, he masters every step with precision and conviction to deliver another revelatory spectacle.
Director: S. Craig Zahler
Egyptian Theatre: Hulu Screen