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Posts Tagged ‘Vince Vaughn’

Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn

“DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE” My rating: B+

159 minutes | MPAA rating: R

With its loquacious cops and crooks and pages of dialogue devoted to the amusingly mundane (Quarter Pounders with cheese, egg salad sandwiches), “Dragged Across Concrete” will remind many of a Quentin Tarantino film, especially “Pulp Fiction.”

But it also bears comparison to Michael Mann’s “Heat,” for this curiously affecting crime epic (nearly three hours) is less about black and white than shades of gray.

Add to the mix Mel Gibson chewing on his best role in ages, and the latest from writer/director S. Craig Zahler (“Bone Tomahawk”) shapes up as an unexpected treat that digs into the viewer’s head and hangs around long after the lights come up.

At the center of this sprawling tale are a couple of police detectives — Ridgeman and Lurasetti (Gibson and Vince Vaughn) — who’ve drawn long unpaid suspensions for brutalizing a suspect.  Desperate for money, Ridgeman talks his reluctant partner into tailing a suave  criminal (Thomas Kretschmann); the hope is that he will lead the pair to some sort of drug deal or robbery that they can interrupt, making off with the cash and contraband.

Ultimately the two cops find themselves wading through the aftermath of a bloody bank heist. Few are left standing.

But around this dramatic core Zahler has introduced a big cast of characters — lawmen, criminals and common citizens caught in the crossfire — and given each enough backstory that we begin to identify with them on a much deeper level.

Gibson’s Ridgeman, for instance, is a tough street cop bitter that his refusal to schmooze has left his career in the dust. Now he’s coping with an ailing wife (Laurie Holden) and a teenage daughter terrified of the only neighborhood they can afford to live in. On the job Ridgeman may seem like semi-racist thug; at home we see a different side of the man.

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Andrew Garfield

Andrew Garfield as Desmond Doss

“HACKSAW RIDGE” My rating: B+

131 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“Old fashioned” in the best possible sense, “Hacksaw Ridge” is a real-life World War II combat drama that has it both ways.

It may be the most violent film ever released by a major studio, being horrifyingly realistic in its depiction of combat in the South Pacific.

At the same time it is soul-shakingly inspiring.

Brutality and spirituality are unlikely bedfellows, which makes the ultimate triumph of “Hacksaw Ridge” all the more remarkable.

In fact, the film instantly elevates director Mel Gibson back to his one-time status as a major filmmaker. Say what you will about Gibson’s misbehavior and misplaced beliefs, the guy has got the stuff.

Like “Sergeant York,” the reality-inspired classic about the World War I hero, “Hacksaw Ridge” centers on a conscientious objector who ends up winning the Congressional Medal of Honor. It even follows that earlier film’s basic narrative, dividing its running time between our hero’s life Stateside and his grueling combat experiences.

The difference is that unlike Sgt. Alvin York — who finally put aside his C.O. status and became a one-man juggernaut, killing at least 28 German soldiers and capturing 132 others — Desmond Doss practiced non-violence even in the midst of the most ghastly carnage imaginable.

With bullets whizzing around him — quite literally up to his knees in blood and guts — this Army medic singlemindedly went about his business of saving his fellow soldiers.

We meet young Desmond (Andrew Garfield) in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Dad (Hugo Weaving) is an unshaved alcoholic still tormented by the sight of his friends being blown to bits during the Great War. Mom (Rachel Griffiths) is often on the fist end of her husband’s anguish.

As a boy Desmond is traumatized after losing his temper and striking his brother  with a rock. Swearing to never again harm another human, he joins the the Seventh-day Adventist Church, whose pacifist doctrines prohibit its members from carrying weapons.

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