DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE
2018, Summit Entertainment, 158 min, USA/Canada, Dir: S. Craig Zahler

Hot on the heels of the spectacular pugilism of BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99, S. Craig Zahler closes out a triptych of blunt-force trauma that hasn’t been witnessed since the sweaty grit of Peckinpah and Schrader at their muscular peaks. Here suspended cops Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn) attempt to subvert a bank heist for private gain - but 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. Zahler expertly immerses us in a toxic environment where right and wrong are indistinguishable, and Gibson and Vaughn give him all the ammunition he needs with flawless performances as iconic antiheroes out of place and out of time - bad men doing bad things whom we willfully embrace as the lesser of the evils presented.


BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99
2017, RLJE Films, 132 min, USA, Dir: S. Craig Zahler

BONE TOMAHAWK director S. Craig Zahler’s sophomore feature follows Bradley Thomas (Vince Vaughn), a former boxer turned drug runner who is incarcerated after a deal goes horribly wrong. Sentenced to serve time under the watch of the sadistic Warden Tuggs (Don Johnson), Thomas must fight to stay alive and to protect those he loves. In lesser hands this narrative could have beaten a pedestrian path, but here Zahler flirts with viewers, deliberately taking his time to establish Vaughn’s character until he arrives at prison and metamorphoses into a killing machine that is part Frankenstein monster, part shark from JAWS and part monster truck.


BONE TOMAHAWK
2015, RLJ Entertainment, 133 min, USA, Dir: S. Craig Zahler

This unusual mix of Western and horror stars Kurt Russell as sheriff Franklin Hunt, who keeps the townsfolk of Good Hope safe with the help of his trusty deputy (Richard Jenkins). When a drifter with something to hide arrives and is wounded in a bar fight, both he and the doctor who treats him (Lili Simmons) vanish, leading Hunt and his search party (which also includes Mathew Fox and Patrick Wilson) to a tribe of cannibalistic Troglodytes. Sharply scripted and beautifully shot, this quietly contemplative – and at times shockingly violent – film will have you rooting for these men by the time they arrive at the cannibals’ lair.


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