Written & Directed By: S. Craig Zahler
Cinematography: Benji Bakshi
Editor: Greg D’Auria
Cast: Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn, Tory Kittles, Jennifer Carpenter, Michael Jai White, Thomas Kretschmann, Don Johnson, Udo Kier, Laurie Holden, Fred Melamed, Justine Warrington, Myles Truitt, Vivian Ng
The script centers on two policemen, one an old-timer, the other his volatile younger partner, who find themselves suspended when a video of their strong-arm tactics become the media’s cause du jour. Low on cash and with no other options, these two embittered soldiers descend into the criminal underworld to gain their just due, but instead find far more than they wanted awaiting them in the shadows.
The films characters are Chatty but does it have a point other when character building all hard lives been around the block more than enough matter of fact manner.
The film seem to be Influenced more 1980’s and rough 70’s Seems to like his characters stand off as western as characters seem to be like cowboys the west of a classic brand in changing Times.
The film could Also be accused of being racist leaving cliches amongst the cliches and the death of minorities or the portrayal of white against minorities with minorities often victims or villains. That seem to keep coming up in the work of Writer/Director S. Craig Zahler.
One can see the usual accusations of this film being racist, misogynistic anti everything and I believe that is the point. Where as he also adds in the elements. Though for him this is his most diverse yet least aimed film. While not addressing the accusations of his usual tropes he doesn’t back away from them in fact he seems to go in on them. His characters are often unhappy or at odds they are personable enough but don’t trust easily and have a hostility underneath them simmering.
Just with the casting of Mel Gibson and giving minority characters somewhat more characterization even if they fill out a stereotypes still.
I have been one of his critics and have noticed the problematic material but there is something about his filmmaking that keeps my interest this film while his most in your face with his critics seems the least offensive even though can clearly see some problems with offensiveness
Maybe because if the length I am like by for some kind of meaning that makes sense as it has to be for a reason. It Would be one thing if it’s something they came up once but it seems to keep continuing so that it is his style maybe See’s himself as a low rent Tarantino it Tarantino’s all about the genre and a cinematic experience.
He seems to take on his critics more here by offering different points of view and finally making the villains Caucasian. As they seem more to be using the African American characters as the help for their mission but totally expendable.
Though this is more an ensemble picture it offers an African American character an important more leading role even if his situation is kind of cliche though considering it’s a movie. it can be seen as motivation to get out of his environment and give his family s better life that is sort of parallel to our main characters played by Vince Vaughn and Mel Gibson who aren’t necessarily dirty cops just more aggressive and violent when it comes to their work.
The main characters all have a code and a kind of moral barometer. While all who Don’t believe it follow one truly are either victims or criminals here.
They are seen or presented as cops who get the job done but find it increasingly hard when you are supposed to do everything by the book and everyone is so sensitive especially when they are taking down major hardened criminals not harassing someone at a traffic light.
They are more made to represent the old days in a rapidly changing climate. Who want to do the right thing but now must change their ways to be sensitive and aren’t making as much as they should.
So once they are suspended without pay after already struggling they decide on a plan to help themselves that involves still doing the right thing by taking down a criminal but keeping the ill gotten gains.
The film offers Mel Gibson a role if a lifetime that partially seems inspired by his real life past. So that adds a certain fascination for the audience. His casting also seems to make the director add a challenge and infuriation to his critics.
Mel Gibson is more front and center here as a kind or morally conflicted cowboy doing what he has to do in a rapidly changing atmosphere who is too old and set ln his ways to change who has always done the right thing and has gotten him nowhere.
Jennifer Carpenter seems to be here to put a human face on a victim of the major heist as we see her before and during and seems to suffer the most violent and cruel fate. Her role seems more a cameo but also here to illustrate that every victim has a backstory and add more of a human face to the victims as well as since she is one of S. Craig Zahler regulars she can fit into the film in a more meaningful way as the way her character is treated seems mercilessly cruel.
The villains are barely revealed but are so cold and cruel it’s easy for us to hate them. As we really only see them rob, kill and torture others. The villains are vicious and unlikeable. Which is why we rarely if ever see their faces. They are phantoms to a degree with not human dignity or soul. Everyone else seems more debateable.
The film is overlong for pace it seems but really doesn’t need to set itself apart and move at it’s own speed.
As it has it’s inspiration from 1980’s cop movies and crime thrillers with a kind of philosophical bend that makes it seem a bit pretentious and while not visually dazzling and quite dark it keeps your interest. As this seems more a film about machismo
And the title comes from the characters seeming to have to go through pain for every advantage or success they gain. It never comes easy and is practically torture but you do what you have to do to survive.