(Release Info U.K. schedule; April 26th, 2019, Belmont Filmhouse, Aberdeen, 49 Belmont Street, Aberdeen, AB10 1JS, 14:00 PM)
"Dragged Across Concrete"
A stolid, old guard policeman, Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and his volatile younger partner, Anthony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn), find themselves suspended when a video of their strong-arming tactics going viral and become the media’s special du jour. Low on cash and with no other options, these two embittered soldiers take it upon themselves, to delve into the criminal underworld, to gain their due, but instead find far more than they wanted awaiting them in the shadows. What they uncover is more than they were expecting. In keeping with his previous output.
At the start of this story, two longtime police partners, Brett Ridgeman Anthony Lurasetti are suspended for use of excessive force during the arrest of a known criminal. These two flawed, but decorated officers are ostracized for their behavior and soon find themselves reconsidering their moral codes. They're neither innocent good guys nor amoral bad guys, but human beings who do both commendable and dubious things; these two cops have no easy choices if they want to provide for their loved ones. Apart from this pair, but no less conflicted, is the third protagonist, Henry Johns (Tory Kittles). This young black man, recently released from prison, soon discovers that his mother Lana (Vivian Ng) has returned to prostitution, which she practices in the house wherein his disabled brother Jeffrey (Andrew Dunbar) lives. Disgusted with the situation, the newly freed ex-convict returns to the underworld that sent him to jail to earn some quick cash. Surrounding this trio is a large supporting cast. Included in this group is the frustrated, Melanie (Laurie Holden), a tough former cop and Ridgeman’s wife who was forced to retire from law enforcement at a young age because of a disability. There’s also Biscuit (Michael Jai White), the slightly successful wheedling criminal, who's a childhood friend of Henry Johns and his partner in a new criminal undertaking, and Denise (Tattiawna Jones), Anthony’s fiancé, an inquisitive and very observant social worker. Elsewhere is Kelly Summer (Jennifer Carpenter), a distressed young mother who must return to her job at a bank and leave her newborn baby for the first time. Lieutenant Calvert (Don Johnson) is another distinct face Ridgeman’s high-ranking former partner who offers his cohort some critical advice that may or may not be heeded.
Director Craig Zahler ("Bone Tomahawk"), returns with an unflinching and gritty tale that's sure to cement his reputation as one of the leading voices in genre blending film today. It's a film about police brutality that's as unsettling as it's violent. It's rich genre fiction that has multiple viewpoints, complex characters, scenes that breathe, and moments of drama, comedy, and surprise. The film has distinct characters, narrative momentum, and moral complexity, but the sum of these elements is a far greater thing. It's a vivid fictional world. When we watch this picture we've a sense of a world and the lives beyond the events shown in the movie. These are movies that turned us into a committed movie fan and works of art that will survive and make people ask questions rather than spoon feed them answers like so many didactic movies do today. As is often the case in novels and screenplays, the protagonists are in perilous circumstances against which they struggle in different and surprising though logical ways.
The look of "Dragged Across Concrete" is carefully planned in terms of lighting, color palette, and use of shadows in order to create strong atmospheres and expressive tones with these visual elements. The music is also non-intrusive and precise. Because we've faith in the script and the actors, it's not necessary to tell the audience how to feel about what's happening. The emotions comes from the content of the film, and if they don’t, the film forces it down somebody’s throat with sad music or suspenseful music. In this modern concrete landscape, a jazz orchestra illustrates the many hues of Ridgeman, Anthony, Henry Johns, Biscuit, Melanie, Kelly Summer, and the others who struggle to find their melodies. The film shows influences of hard bop composers like Charles Mingus ('Black Saint And The Sinner Lady'), John Coltrane ('Africa Brass'), and Oliver Nelson ('Blues And The Abstract Truth') as well as the great modern jazz leader Maria Schneider ('Thompson Fields') and the jazzy 'Taxi Driver' score by Bernard Hermann, though the senses of melody and harmony are quite different and resulted in a unique take on composed, orchestrated jazz.
The scope and amount of plotting of this large movie required a more detailed visual style than the hand-held kind that Zahler uses in his previous pictures, but the overall approach has the same end goal; never distract the audience from the characters and the story. Although there are many highly stylized movies the film is performance-centric. The camera never gets between the actors and the audience. The film wants the audience to connect as directly with the characters as possible, elaborate crane shots and canted shots and flashy filters and long lenses work against this idea, as do using close ups as the default shot size; most things in life are not viewed in close up and people often express themselves with their hands. The environment of "Dragged Across Concrete" is bigger than those pictures and there's a larger sense of American communities and how they do and don’t co-exist.