A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dragged Across Concrete is a crime drama from writer/director S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell Block 99), which means it's very long and brutally violent, but it's also difficult to forget or dismiss. Extreme violence includes guns and shooting, deaths, bloody corpses, a hand being shot off (gore shown), and a woman being held hostage and threatened with a knife to her eye. In one especially gory scene, a dead man's stomach is sliced open to retrieve a swallowed key. Plus, bullies throw a soda at a teen, and more. Language is also very rough, with many uses of "f--k," "s--t," the "N" word, and more. And there's a fairly graphic sex scene that includes partial nudity (breasts). Another woman is shown topless, but covers herself with her hands. A character is a prostitute. Characters smoke cigarettes fairly regularly. One character is said to be a drug dealer, a woman takes painkillers for her M.S., and there's some social drinking. Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn co-star.
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What's the story?
In DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE, police officers Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and Anthony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn) attempt a drug bust in their city of Bulwark. Unfortunately, their rough tactics are captured on video, and they're suspended for six weeks without pay. Fed up at having to scramble for little reward and unable to protect his family, Ridgeman follows a tip and decides to steal a shipment of gold bullion from a lowlife drug dealer. Along with a reluctant Lurasetti -- who hopes to propose to his girlfriend -- Rigdeman stakes out the dealer's hidden apartment. Finally the robbery occurs, and it turns out far bloodier than imagined. The police follow the criminals and their hostage to a remote location, where a violent showdown looms.
Is it any good?
This violent, hypnotically slow crime drama is fairly pedestrian in its use of overwritten dialogue and underlit settings, but it's also more bracingly dangerous than most other movies. Director S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell Block 99) specializes in vivid, graphic pulp, perhaps influenced by David Lynch and Quentin Tarantino, but his films have a hardness that comes from somewhere beyond Hollywood. Even his titles -- like Dragged Across Concrete -- are more descriptive than the soft, generic examples we tend to get today. Zahler also uses his monolithic running times to powerful advantage, spending long minutes introducing a character simply so that her death is more meaningful; she's more than just a random passerby.
Many of Zahler's scenes consist of back-and-forths with characters talking, while concerns like the untrustworthiness of the media and the creeping gentrification of health food stores drop into the dialogue like unwieldy boulders. Dragged Across Concrete is also one of those dark movies that makes you wonder why people can't just turn on an extra light here and there. Racism is handled bluntly but not dishonestly; an African-American character played by Tory Kittles is perhaps the smartest one in the room. Ultimately, the movie's very slowness and quietness make all the wrongdoing and violence resonate a great deal more; as it goes, we consider consequences more than in any normal film. Rather than blowing by in a sea of bullets and blood, this one stays with you.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Dragged Across Concrete's violence. How did it make you feel? Did it have consequences?
How is smoking depicted? Does the movie glamorize it?
Did Ridgeman have the right to try to change his circumstances by resorting to crime? What other options did he have?
What does the movie have to say about racism and the way it's depicted in the media?
What message does this ending send? Is it a happy one? What are the upsides and downsides?
- In theaters: March 22, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: April 30, 2019
- Cast: Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn, Tory Kittles
- Director: S. Craig Zahler
- Studio: Summit Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 159 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence, grisly images, language, and some sexuality/nudity
- Last updated: November 13, 2019
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