Follow TV Tropes


Film / Dragged Across Concrete

Go To
Those who can't earn a living must find another way to provide.

There's a lot of imbeciles out there.
Lt. Brett Ridgeman

Dragged Across Concrete is a 2019 neo-noir crime drama written and directed by S. Craig Zahler, starring Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn, Tory Kittles, Michael Jai White, Jennifer Carpenter, and Thomas Kretschmann.

Detectives Brett Ridgeman (Gibson) and Tony Lurasetti (Vaughn) are disgraced and put on six weeks unpaid leave after a video of their rough handling of a suspect makes the news. With each man facing his own financial troubles and uncertainty about the future, the two conspire to target and rob a high-level drug dealer identified through their connections in the criminal underworld. Meanwhile Henry Johns (Kittles), a recently-released ex-con, gets roped into a mysterious but lucrative job by his old friend Biscuit (White) in hopes of relieving his own financial straits. These two pairs find themselves on a collision course with each other, a crew of ruthless, sadistic criminals led by the enigmatic Laurence Vogelman (Kretschmann), and the various bystanders caught in the middle.


The film uses the following tropes:

  • Adult Fear:
    • Ridgeman and his wife Melanie fear for their daughter's safety if they continue to raise her in their rough neighborhood.
    • Kelly Summer's extreme reluctance to leave her baby and return to work turns out to be fully justified, considering she never sees him again.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Kelly is, most likely, suffering from postpartum depression which persists beyond her lengthy maternity leave - she's visibly unhinged and unable to just leave home and return to work. Her husband has to lock the doors and essentially kick her out. Whatever it is, she's not well.
  • Artistic License – Physics: During the standoff between our two cop-protagonists and Vogelman's bank robbers, Lurasetti, prone behind the boot of his car, says that the robbers don't have the right angle to shoot him. Promptly, several bursts of gunfire from their van rain down on the pavement about 10-20 feet from the car, right in front of Lurasetti. In reality, bullets love to hit hard ground at an angle and then travel almost parallel to the pavement, preserving enough energy to kill; an unintuitive property made clear to police officers in training videos, regarding the subject of taking cover behind a car. Given the amount of rounds fired, Lurasetti would have very likely caught a bullet or two right in the face, arms or upper body, without any way to quickly return fire.
  • Advertisement:
  • Asian Storeowner: Sid, the unfortunate cashier robbed by Black Gloves.
  • Axe-Crazy: The three main bank robbers mutilate, kill and destroy purely for the hell of it. When robbing a liquor store, Black Gloves pointlessly sprays the store with more bullets before leaving. During the robbery, they make good on their threat to cut the bank manager's balls off for being too slow.
  • Batter Up!: Henry has a baseball bat hidden under a couch in his apartment and he goes right for it, hearing another man in the bedroom. He then proceeds to threaten the guy with it.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Despite being a small-time crook, Henry does his very best to provide for Ethan and, what's most important, successfully shelters him from many evils of the world around them. He also makes sure Ethan keeps his own interests as far away as possible from Henry's criminal activities, all the while being very open about them (or their outcome), to further encourage the kid to pursuit higher goals.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Vogelman's crew are dead and Henry secures the gold to ensure his family has a better future but Ridgeman and Tony are dead and have been presumed to have gone missing, along with a slew of other corpses left in Vogelman's wake. To help alleviate the sting for the latter, Henry sends some of the gold to Ridgeman's wife and daughter so that they can have a better life than what he was able to provide.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: The main cast of Dragged range from sympathetic but unscrupulous criminals looking out for themselves, to outright sadistic psychopaths.
  • Book-Ends: The film opens and closes focusing on Henry.
  • Brick Joke: Brett having higher chances of survival than Tony, but still not 100%.
  • Car Fu: Having his own car heavily damaged and facing the possibility of Vogelmann simply driving away, Ridgeman rams the van, turning it on the side. Then he uses his own car to block the back doors of the truck, forcing robbers to crawl one at a time through driver's door.
  • Catchphrase: A variable one. Whenever Ridgeman is asked his opinion, he gives a very specific percentage on his prediction.
  • Chekhov's Gun
    • The embrasure in the armored truck.
    • The guns wrapped in cellophane.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Once his Morality Chain is gone, Brett goes for the lowest, but also most effective blows possible. Facing an armoured van? Immobilize it and set it on fire with gasoline, shooting anything that crawls out. While he's stopped half-way through it, his plan still wipes out Vogelmann's crew.
  • Cowboy Cop: Ridgeman and Calvert were these in their youth. Calvert grew out of it and is now Ridgeman's commanding officer, pointing out that Brett would have been promoted ages ago if he stopped being such a maverick.
  • Defiant to the End: Biscuit, who swallows the ignition key to the getaway van after being shot by Vogelman's henchmen. As the robbers try to torture him for the whereabouts of the key by shooting his legs and crotch, the pain causes him to vomit the key up, then he quickly swallows it again before they finish him off with a headshot.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Ridgeman and Lurasetti express some very politically incorrect opinions about police brutality, race relations and masculinity, something you might expect from hard-nosed cops speaking with no filters. * Developing Doomed Characters: Two whole scenes are dedicated to giving a backstory to Kelly, a bystander during the bank robbery who gets killed right at the beginning of the ordeal.
  • Dirty Old Man: The bank manager's effusive praise of how Kelly's return has brought radiance back into the office makes it pretty clear that he's got a major crush on her.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Vogelmann wrongly assumes his "muscles" are going to just play along and keep acting like lambs led to slaughter. Biscuit gives him hell for all the mistreatment and ultimately Henry walks away from the whole thing as the sole survivor, taking the loot with him.
  • Dramatic Irony: Biscuit tries to eat the van's keys. This gets him killed and then Vogelmann sends Mrs. Reed to drag the body back to van, confusing Brett and Tony, but ultimately they just stay put and watch. Should Biscuit have throw the keys away, the robbers still would be trapped in the van, with no way to get the keys back and with detectives having easy time gunning them down. And Biscuit might have even lived through the whole thing.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Explaining to Tony why they should even try to make a hit on some criminals, Brett mentions that despite being an extremely efficient police duo, they have zero respect and Ridgeman will soon retire without ever getting promoted beyond detective. On meta level, it's Mel Gibson Leaning on the Fourth Wall and talking how Hollywood made him a non-person after his drunk stint when pulled over by cops, ignoring all his prior works and treating him like air afterward.
  • Dumb Muscle: Vogelmann and his crew assume this about Biscuit and Henry. They are wrong. Boy, they are so wrong.
  • Easily Forgiven: A variation. Henry comes back from jail, only to find out that his mother is still on drugs and hooking to make ends meet, which obviously affects his teen brother. Rather than getting angry, he calmly lets it all slide, promising to take care for the family and starts helping out.
  • Enhanced Interrogation Techniques: Downplayed. Brett gives Rosalinda a cold shower and then turns the ceiling fans on while she's wet and almost naked. He doesn't injure her, but it's still unethical. He also pins a suspect to a fire escape.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Henry just finished serving his sentence. He remains very calm despite facing stressful situations, easy forgives various things and strongly believes in Honor Among Thieves. And he would do anything for his younger brother. He also has a fetish about Asian women.
    • Brett and Tony are in the middle of a stake-out, heckling each other over a coffee order. Then they proceed to do clean, if a bit excessive operation with full efficiency and never stopping being offensive toward their suspects. They are also not above using underhand tactics to get things done.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Tony has pangs of conscience over allowing a brutal bank robbery to happen.
    • Henry admits he is just a small fry and never killed a man before, considering it excessive.
  • The Faceless: Vogelman's two masked henchmen only ever appear in balaclavas and black goggles obscuring everything but their mouths.
  • Fan Disservice: A bank employee who is kidnapped by Vogelman and his gang spends the last third of the film half naked and humiliated. She also winds up getting killed by Ridgeman when she's forced into trying to kill them when her family is threatened.
  • Fatal Flaw:
    • Vogelmann embodies Greed. No matter what, his only focus and goal is on his score and he's not only unwilling, but simply incapable of parting or even splitting it. It eventually gets him killed.
    • Brett is too proud to do various things that would simply make his life easier. This includes forcing his wife to stay at home rather than find part-time employment, despite their finances being short - simply because he can't admit to himself he made mistakes in the past and they are in dire need of money because of those mistakes. This eventually pushes him into a plan of hitting some criminals right after they do some big score. His other flaw comes in form of his never-ending calculations and probability matching. Should he have played things cool, rather than overthinking them, he would live through the finale.
  • Fingore: Before she is killed off, Kelly gets all her fingers and half of a hand blown into a bloody stump with a hail of gunfire.
  • Friendly Enemy: There is a mutual understanding and weird form of friendship between Brett, a more-or-less upstanding police officer, and Friedrich, a career criminal and pretty big fish in the criminal world. Back in the day, Ridgeman was lenient towards Friedrich's son, letting him go after a stake-out scott-free. Friedrich is obviously grateful, but he's still a criminal and Brett is a cop.
  • Friendly Sniper: Tony served in the military as a sharpshooter and is the more friendly of the duo. This gets him ultimately killed, when he tries to protect Mrs. Reed, only to be shot for his trouble.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: How Brett and Tony work out Rosalinda in their introductionary scene. Notably, they switch their roles half-way through.
  • Gorn: Par for the course with a Zahler picture, though in contrast to his first two films, the violence much less exaggerated and only shows up in brief spurts than extended sequences.
  • Groin Attack: Vogelman threatens to castrate Mr. Edmington, the bank manager. After all hell breaks loose (mostly off-screen) in the bank, Ridgeman and Lurasetti drive past the entrance and briefly see that the robbers apparently followed through with this threat.
  • Harmful to Minors: First thing Henry does is calling his mother out on being a drug addict and hooking - again! -, while Ethan is in the next room and how this is going to scar him for life if she doesn't stop.
  • Honor Among Thieves: The film opens with making it explicit Henry believes in this and follows it to the latter. He also talks with Biscuit how this sort of behaviour used to be normal and expected, rather than something special. All of this builds up the tragedy in the finale.
  • Humiliation Conga: The guy who slept with Ma get thrown out by a Scary Black Man, threatened with a baseball bat and, in the end, forced to take the garbage out.
  • Hyperlink Story: A story about a low-level criminal sorting his life after serving time in prison. A story of two aging cops getting desperate after being suspended yet again. A story of brutal robbers preparing for their big job. A story of a young mother, fighting her post-pregnancy depression. They all weave together, eventually.
  • Informed Attractiveness: The bank manager waxes very poetic about how enchanting Kelly's presence is in the office, and a co-worker pouts about how slender she's remained even right after childbirth.
  • Karma Houdini: Henry is an accessory to a robbery that resulted in several deaths, which makes him a murderer according to the felony murder doctrine, but he escapes scot-free and wins millions of dollars. Likewise, his mother is a junkie who blew her money on drugs rather than care for her youngest child. In the end, she's receiving a massage in a mansion.
  • Kill 'Em All: By the end of the story, Henry, his family and Ridgeman's family are the only known surviving primary characters.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: Henry was doing time because he pulled a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on the guy responsible for crippling his younger brother. The guy ended up in intense care and Henry in prison.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The whole discussion about political correctness, being typecasted and bigotry playing both ways, when Brett and Tony are played respectively by Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn leans so hard on the fourth wall it barely holds. At times, some of their dialogues about fallout from media coverage of their work and personal life feels more like the actors talking about their experiences than characters discussing their current situation.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Oh, boy...
    • Rants between Gibson and Vaughn about political correctness and how a single mistake can ruin your career... oh, you mean it's characters talking about their police work?
    • Brett assessing his chances of survival as better than Tony's. Totally unrelated to their casting. Not at all.
    • Don Johnson talking with Mel Gibson how they both used to be popular cops back in the day, but one of them learned how to behave and the other didn't.
  • Left the Background Music On:
    • Jazzy muzak playing on Tony's car stereo.
    • Both Brett and Henry listening to the same radio station during the finale.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: The partnership between detectives has been going on for quite a while and they know each others habits and tastes well, often squabble over minor issues, but never meaning any ill. It's especially notable when they are on look-out for Vogelmann's move, heckling each other non-stop. They also know each other well enough to reliably execute Unspoken Plan Guarantee.
  • Meta Casting: Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn as two racist police officers who routinely get in trouble because of the political correctness climate around and who ruin their careers thanks to it. At times, it's so blatant it starts to grate on the audience.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: While Lurasetti is cash-strapped, he does have a nice car, listens to jazz music, has excellent taste in cuisine, and speaks very high-brow with his classy and intelligent girlfriend. Ridgeman, by contrast, is very blue-collar.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: A truly ridiculous case, since the very first thing on-screen is Henry and Lana having sex, completely naked. When they are done, she covers herself up to shoulder level, while Henry only gets his groin covered. Then he proceeds to play with her boobs anyway, all on-screen, making the short moment with a bedsheet completely moot. Considering the film's R rating, it's really, really bizarre.
  • Morality Chain: As long as Mrs. Reed is alive, the detectives are unwilling to wage an assault on the van, not wanting to get her killed. After she's killed, Ridgeman murders the entire crew in less than 30 seconds, since there is absolutely nothing stopping him by then.
  • Morality Pet:
    • Ethan is one for Henry, who wants to get money to support him and maybe even try to get him through school, so he can fulfill his dreams.
    • The reason why Ridgeman breaks so many of the laws he clung to for most of his life is being the only provider for his terminally ill wife and teenage daughter, and not earning all that much. Getting suspended pushes him over the edge.
  • N-Word Privileges: Henry calls everyone nigger. Some affectionately. Some insultingly. Some just because.
  • No Honor Among Thieves:
    • Vogelmann considers his "muscles" to be nothing more than tools at his disposal, making it all but said aloud he plans to kill them after the job. He gives similar, if slightly more subtle, treatment to Black and Tan Gloves.
    • The ultimate mistake Ridgeman makes is assuming this trope when he and Henry finish cleaning up after the messy confrontation in the safe house. With barely any choice left, Henry shoots him on instinct in self-defense, then chews him out for his stupidity and lack of trust.
  • No Name Given: There are various, often bit characters that are still given a name, even if only during the credits roll... but Black Glove and Gray Glove Robbers are never named or addressed in any way.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: Both detectives are dedicated to their work, sympathetic and apparently spend their entire careers chasing baddies and never doing anything really wrong... but that doesn't make them any less racist, big-mouthed and simply mean toward their suspects. Just in their introduction, they continuously pretend they can't understand Rosalinda, a hard-of-hearing Latina, and play up all the stereotypes relating to both Latinas and deaf people, despite her speaking unaccented English and not fitting any of said stereotypes.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Despite the title, nobody is dragged across concrete, despite the director's previous film specifically having this happen.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Henry's father left the family... with his boyfriend, leaving behind a wife and two sons. It's only ever mentioned in passing.
    • Lt. Calvert and Ridgeman used to be partners and good enough to get on a front page of newspapers back in the day. It's unclear what exactly they did to gain fame.
    • It's not the first time Ridgeman is suspended.
    • Tony used to be an Army sniper.
  • Not What It Looks Like:
    • The sound of sex coming from the bedroom in Henry's flat upon his return from prison? That's his mother having a client. The scene makes you assume he's going to confront an unfaithful girlfriend or having a hypocritical dialogue about Good Adultery, Bad Adultery.
    • No, Kelly isn't working with the bank robbers. Neither is her baby taken hostage. But the way how it's filmed, it makes you question her allegiance.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Henry, who milks being just "a small time nigga" for all its worth. He even talks with Brett about this, pointing out that it's good to be underestimated. If only Vogelmann understood that, too...
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Biscuit.
  • Overly Long Gag: Lurasetti loudly munching on a sandwich during a stakeout while Ridgeman watches him in annoyance.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise:
    • Both Brett and Tony have their "trademark" disguises and heckle each other about how thin they are: Brett just wears sunglasses and a cap, while Tony carries a can of blond hairspray and reading glasses.
    • Played With in case of the make-up both Biscuit and Henry wear. While it's obviously fake when you look closely, from a distance it makes them both appear Latino, which is enough to divert suspicion.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Ridgeman tries to invoke it twice:
    • First, he makes it crystal clear to Vogelmann that they only want the gold and will let the criminals live, as long as they hand over the loot. It doesn't work.
    • Later, he points out to Henry that they can continue the fight and, most likely, kill each other, or simply split the gold in half, which will leave them both rich and alive. After a short pause, Henry agrees and they proceed as quite an efficient duo, despite mutual distrust.
  • Promotion to Parent: The prologue makes it explicitly clear Henry is the one taking care for the family, essentially replacing his Disappeared Dad. All while his mother is alive and (relatively) well, but simply inept and indifferent.
  • Rags to Riches: Henry's overall journey. After securing the gold from Vogleman, he goes from living in a run down apartment with his mama and little brother to a particularly lavish mansion at the end.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: A variation. After trying to work in favour of the robbers and prevent a distress message from leaving the bank, Kelly is instantly shot at for what was taken as lack of cooperation. Not that the robbers really cared.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Brett is carrying a revolver as his service gun. He is quite effective with it, to the point that he personally kills the entire gang of Vogelmann, despite them being armed with submachine guns and sitting inside an armoured van.
  • Scary Black Man: Henry is perfectly capable of playing up the stereotype, but makes it really scary by staying abnormally cool rather than acting aggressive or violent.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness:
    • When talking with friends and the people he trusts, Henry's vocabulary gets much, much more nuanced and complex. His first on-screen discussion with Biscuit about getting acclimated to the outside world and considering a new vocation is the prime example of it.
    • Lurasetti is prone to lapsing into remarkably complex language, something he shares with his girlfriend. Ridgeman reacts to it on occasion.
    • Mr. Edmington, the head of the bank, definitely goes into this territory when Kelly Summer returns to the bank.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Midway through the film, the audience is treated to an extended vignette centered on Kelly Summer, a new mother and bank teller agonizing over the necessity to return to work after three months' maternity leave. We get an extended sequence of Kelly retreating to her apartment from the bus stop, begging and bargaining with her husband at the locked door to touch her baby one more time before leaving. Then she returns to work, and is warmly welcomed by her manager and coworkers. Then the bank robbery commences, and after a tense standoff between the robbers and staff Kelly has her skull blown to bits by a round of automatic fire. The movie promptly cuts back to Ridgeman and Lurasetti, and Kelly is never mentioned again.
  • A Simple Plan
    • Ridgeman suggests to Tony that by jumping on some criminals at the right moment, they could get lots of money that nobody can report as stolen. They end up being tangled into Vogelmann's extremely messy heist job.
    • Vogelmann plan involves a quick, brutal bank heist to steal golden bullion temporarily stored inside with insufficient protection. The plan involves killing anyone in their way and also hiring two outside drivers for help. It goes south in no time.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • Both Biscuit and Henry prove to be massive obstacles to Vogelmann's plan, simply because they aren't "twitchy niggers" they are assumed to be, but professional criminals.
    • Brett and Tony completely wreck Vogelmann's masterplan. Not only does their presence alone put the entire operation to a screetching halt, but the crew is completely unable to counter the detective duo despite having both superior firepower and an armoured van.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: The lyrics of the song playing in the radio during the finale are more or less about the story so far. It fits because the director writes his own music, and lyrics, for his movies.
  • Take a Third Option: After getting his car damaged and having to either let Vogelmann escape with the gold or die trying to charge their armoured van, Brett instead T-bones the van, capsizing it and thus trapping the robbers in the truck, turning the tables on them.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Played With. The recorded message used during the bank heist has very simple and straight-forward instructions, along with threats. It also assumes complete and full cooperation, as it obviously has no message in case of anyone saying "no".
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Zig-Zagged. Henry and Brett don't get along at all and Ridgeman is essentially taken hostage at gunpoint and forced to finish Vogelmann off on his own. After a brief struggle, they manage to work together, but never trust each other and both sides are constantly expecting a back-stabbing.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness:
    • Kelly is blown to pieces, because the only thing the Gloves are ordered to do is shooting anyone who shows any signs of resistance or insufficient cooperation. Then they open fire at other bank clerks. All while Kelly was preventing sending of a rescue e-mail to police, thus helping them with their heist.
    • The ending. Ridgeman constantly recalculates probabilities and prepares for various situations on the fly. This overplanning gets him killed, as he jumps on Henry with a gun, trying to get a video clip of him killing Mrs. Reed. Henry pulls his own gun and fatally shoots Brett. While he is dying, Henry proceeds to call him out on this, because he was planning to delete the video on his own once they were done, but instead was forced to fight in self-defence.
  • Turn in Your Badge: After being filmed during an arrest, Brett and Tony end up suspended for excessive use of force.
  • Undignified Death: Where to even start... It really shows this is an S. Craig Zahler film.
    • Victims of Black and Gray Gloves all end up with messy, brutal deaths.
    • The bank tellers during the heist. Including Kelly getting quite literally blown to pieces with submachine guns. And then there is the bank manager. Last time his body is shown, we see that the robbers really went through with castration. Making it completely pointless, since they get the gold and already killed half of the staff.
    • After being kidnapped, half-stripped, forced to pee over her clothes, constantly threatened and ultimately forced to work with the bandits, Mrs. Reed is made to crawl toward Brett and Tony, still half-naked and traumatised to the point of Sanity Slippage. And Ridgeman puts a bullet in her head when she shoots Tony, splattering her brain all over the place.
    • Biscuit gets repeatedly shot at, mostly for the sake of torture. Then his dead body is dragged back into the van and he's dissected there to retrive the key he swallowed.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Without exchanging a single word beyond a basic cue, Henry and Biscuit successfully jump on Vogelmann and his goons. While Biscuit doesn't survive this, they manage to completely wreck Vogelmann's entire plan and ultimately Henry cashes in all the gold from the bank heist. It helps they've been friends since they were kids and thus don't really need many words to understand each other.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Henry has a few regarding criminal activity, like "considering the vocation" (taking an offer for a heist job).
  • We Used to Be Friends: Ridgeman and Calvert's friendship from back when they were partners has chilled now that Calvert is Ridgeman's superior officer.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The film takes place in "Bulwark City," the location of which is never revealed.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: And against the person's own will, at that. Vogelmann have blackmailed Mrs. Reed into killing Ridgeman and Lurasetti, or else his (nonexistent) associates are going to murder her family. Being cops, neither Brett nor Tony is willing to shoot an innocent woman, so they let her come very close. But the moment she opens fire at Tony, Ridgeman puts a bullet in her head next second.
  • Wrong Side of the Tracks: Where Ridgeman lives with his family. It's lampshaded as the kind of place you end up after having been a Cowboy Cop for your entire life.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: When Tony is already dying from a fatal gunshot wound, he listens to Denise's voicemail. She rejected his marriage proposal. He even manages to talk with Ridgeman about how unexpected this is before he goes.
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go: After eventually pointing them to the location of a duffel bag full of drugs, Rosalinda is still arrested by the detectives. When she tries to call them out on their promise, they pretend they can't understand her. Again.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: