When footage shows two police detectives - Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn) - using excessive force on a drug dealer, they find themselves suspended without pay and desperate for money. Meanwhile, recently paroled Johns (Tory Kittles) takes up a dangerous job with his friend Biscuit (Michael Jai White) that will see all four of them intersect in the aftermath of a violent robbery.
'Dragged Across Concrete' is not a movie for anyone. If you've crossed paths with any of S. Craig Zahler's work - 'Bone Tomahawk' or 'Brawl In Cell Block 99' - you'll have some idea of how fiercely individual these are, and why they are decidedly an acquired taste. When you use that phrase, there's a lot of connotations that come with. By liking it, you're effectively saying that it's an elite, exclusive thing to enjoy it. Then, by definition, someone who doesn't like it somehow less than. Movies are particularly notorious for this kind of snobbery, because it's the kind of medium that takes on people with strong views and a sense of superiority when it comes to personal taste.
What does this have to do with 'Dragged Across Concrete', you're probably asking? Simply put, it's a movie that is almost daring you to hate it. You can't have a movie about racist cops using excessive force, cast Mel Gibson as one of these racist cops, and not be waiting or egging people to clutch their pearls at the idea. More than that, 'Dragged Across Concrete' is drenched in pulp dialogue and one-liners, not to mention the whole thing moves at a glacial pace - all of which just reeks of self-satisfaction rather than making an entertaining, enjoyable experience. Again, the whole time you're watching it, there's a sense that 'Dragged Across Concrete' is giving you the finger and baiting you to do something
Characters like Jennifer Carpenter and Don Johnson appear for a scene or two, serve their purpose, and are then dropped from the proceedings to allow Vaughn, Gibson, Jai White and Kittles to do their own dirty business. In the case of Vaughn and Gibson, the two actors both exude the kind of broken masculinity that exists in S. Craig Zahler's worlds, whilst Jai White and Kittles have much more of the emotional heft and likeability. Even at that, likeability is something that doesn't exist in a vacuum in 'Dragged Across Concrete'. Everyone's culpable, and everyone - even the victims of their violence - are desperate, and willing to do anything.
Dealing with the kind of grim, morally compromised world of 'Dragged Across Concrete' is exhausting, and its near three-hour runtime doesn't soften any of it. If anything, it's daring you give up and leave throughout. If it's not in a grisly bank robbery sequence that ends in the most violent way possible, then it's the dragged-out aftermath that leads into the third act, where it gets even more violent - if that's even possible. Yet, for all of this casual and remorseless violence, the queasy racial overtones in the script, there's something in 'Dragged Across Concrete' that keeps you in the seat and watching. Maybe it's just spite, but when compared to any of S. Craig Zahler's previous efforts, this feels like hard work rather than a tough watch.