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.


THE STANDOFF AT SPARROW CREEK
2018, 88 min, USA, Dir: Henry Dunham

Set over the course of one night, this razor-tight thriller focuses on an imploding militia searching for the traitor in its midst, whose actions resulted in a shooting at a cop’s funeral. With the clock ticking and every second counting against them, retired cop Gannon (James Badge Dale) must utilize his old skills to discover exactly what machinations pervade this ragtag group. Henry Dunham’s exquisite script is married with gorgeous cinematography, painting in rich, complex hues a section of society often represented simplistically on screen, forging an indelible humanity in a set of characters whose actions are often difficult to empathize with.


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