Dragged Across Concrete is the latest film from the up and coming culture-distorter S. Craig Zahler and has been eagerly anticipated by white racists across the country for the first onscreen pairing of the beloved antisemite Mel Gibson and the suspected antisemite Vince Vaughn. Zahler’s previous two films, Bone Tomahawk (2015) and Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017) were both highly entertaining brutal throw-backs to the exploitation films of the past that eschewed realism in favor of campy ultra-violence and the absurd. Although his latest film shares much in common with the others, such as the Cronenberg-esque practical gore and a subtly anachronistic setting, it differentiates itself by wading into the mud-waters of race politics.
Set in the fictional American megacity of Bulwark we are introduced to our negro hero Henry (Tory Kittles) who, after being released from prison, returns home to find his grotesque junkie landwhale mother (Tattiwana Jones as herself) turning tricks in their apartment. He soon finds himself drawn back into criminal life so he can send his crippled younger brother to video game college. This leads him and his homie (Michael Jai White, bearing little resemblance to the formerly accomplished colored martial artist) into a plot by a German national and his masked accomplices to rob the Jews.
Elsewhere in Bulwark, honorable pigs Ridgeway (Gibson) and Lurasetti (Vaughn) are suspended from the job after footage of them arresting a Mexican criminal is leaked to the media. Interestingly, their behavior was exceptionally tame by American standards and the film even implies that it was essentially a racial conspiracy against them with their boss (Sonny Crockett) likening accusations of racism in the current year to being labeled a communist in the 1950s. However, unlike the very real Jewish-communist infiltration of American institutions in the middle century, there is little evidence that Ridgeway and Lurasetti are actually racists.
The closest the film comes to a serious depiction of race-relations is Ridgeway’s struggle with his neighborhood drowning in the rising tide of color. After his daughter is menaced for the fifth time by an African on her way home from school, he and his MS-ridden wife resign themselves to the fact that if they are unable to afford to move its only a matter of time before she is raped by a pack of “black dudes.” Apparently actually using a racial epithet is a bridge too far for this hardened and allegedly racist cop. Perhaps he doesn’t want to offend Lurasetti who is hoping to tie the knot with his sophisticated mulatto girlfriend.
Driven by concerns over his family Ridgeway uses a connection he has in the German criminal underworld (lol) to get a lead on a potential score, which of course happens to be the same scheme Henry is involved with. Lurasetti reluctantly agrees to participate so he can better provide his Gap-model girlfriend the lifestyle she deserves and the two begin to stakeout what turns out to be a bullion heist. Somewhere along the line Jennifer Carpenter makes an appearance as a bank employee forced by her beta-faggot husband to go back to work after a prolonged maternity leave only to be comically executed in the heist. It is unclear if Zahler has been banging Carpenter and needed a reason to shoe-horn her into another of his films but the fact that her character is a useless appendage in an already bloated film is beyond dispute.
Ridgeway and Lurasetti trail the getaway van, driven by Henry and his homie (both wearing white-face), and arrive at the final destination of some generic movie shoot-out location where they engage in a poorly choreographed gunfight. Here movie firearm sins include cycling the action when a live round is already chambered (several times) and the perennial magic wheelgun with a cylinder count only known to adepts of the Kabbalah. Lurasetti, a supposedly trained shooter that consistently leaves his firing position, is killed by a half-naked bank clerk in a scene that is meant to be shocking rather than senseless and predictable. In the end only Ridgeway and Henry are left standing. They agree to split the money but Ridgeway is too jaded from years on the mean streets to trust a “black dude” criminal and therefore has to die. The film ends with Henry, his crippled brother, and junkie whore mother living in luxury. Of course he also gives a small portion of the take to Ridgeway’s family because he is just that kind of guy.
We are left with a mediocre heist flick filled with recycled tropes, avant-garde pretensions, and banal fence-sitting racial commentary. While Zahler gives legitimacy to concerns about black-on-white violence it is ultimately undermined by the fact that Gibson’s character isn’t much of a racist. In reality he is essentially just a grizzled version of your average urban liberal forever in search of “good schools.” His downfall is due to a generic lack of trust rather than a specifically racial animus. In other words Ridgeway is a less racist version of Mel Gibson himself. The casting of Gibson and, to a lesser extent, Vaughn appears to be a provocation designed to court controversy. The audience is encouraged to presume racism on the part of their characters without anything in the film to support it. There is even a not so thinly veiled reference to Gibson himself early on when Sonny Crockett mentions “things said on the phone in private.”
While the chance of a genuinely compelling race-film to come out of Hollywood is about the same as a film about the USS Liberty it is likely we will see a lot more superficial attempts at appealing to jilted white audiences in the future as racial chaos continues to engulf what is left of Western Civilization and Bulwark looks like a better place to live than any major American city.
For those looking to watch a good Mel Gibson film there is always Payback (1999), Get the Gringo (2012), and (my personal favorite) The Year of Living Dangerously (1982). If it is a heist movie you are after the Spanish series Money Heist (2017) is excellent. You may also take comfort in the fact that there is no such thing as having seen Michael Mann’s Heat (1995) “too many” times.