(director/writer: S. Craig Zahler; cinematographer: Benji Bakshi; editor: Greg D’Auria; music: Jeff Herriott, S. Craig Zahler; cast: Mel Gibson (Brett Ridgeman), Vince Vaughn (Anthony Lurasetti), Tory Kittles (Henry Johns), Michael Jai White (Biscuit), Thomas Kretschmann (Lorentz Vogelmann), Jennifer Carpenter (Kelly Summer), Laurie Holden (Melanie Ridgman), Don Johnson (Lt. Calvert), Udo Kier (Friedrich), Fred Melamed (Mr. Edmington), Justine Warrington (Cheryl), Primo Allon (Black Gloved Robber), Vanessa Bell Calloway (junkie mom), Vivian Ng (Lana), Jordan Ashley Olson (Sara), Tattiawna Jones (Denise); Runtime: 158; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Keith Kjarval, Dallas Sonnier, Tyler Jackson, Jack Heller, Sefton Fincham; Unified Pictures/Summit Entertainment; 2018)

I have no idea how the title is derived, but the edgy B-film, with arthouse pretenses, lays a good foundation for its bad- cop drama.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A rather lengthy at 158 minutes, slow-paced reactionary police procedural film, that’s superbly directed, written and minimally sound-tracked by S. Craig Zahler (“Bone Tomahawk”/”Brawl in Cell Block 99 “), the novelist-turned-filmmaker.

It’s a wrenching violent crime drama, not for the squeamish or the bleeding heart liberal crowd, that takes delight in its perversity, setting its unsettling genre mood, not backing off from its sad social commentary on the horrors of living in American big cities, and it creates just the right sordid characters for its infamous right-wing stars Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn.Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) is a grizzled cop who is partnered with the volatile younger Anthony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn), in the fictional city of Bulwark. Both are suspended for two months over a police brutality issue. The reason the cops are suspended reflects today’s hot-button racism issue with white cops, as the partners were caught on video while making a drug dealer arrest of a Mexican-American suspect and casually saying racist remarks while using excessive force.

The banter between Gibson and Vaughn is Quentin Tarantino cool. Though racist and amoral characters, the partners are good at doing the physical part of their jobs and gain some sympathy from the viewer for doing their tough underpaid job fighting crime, even if it’s realized by most that these rogue cops shouldn’t be on the force.

The aging Gibson character, approaching 60, is motivated to be a bad cop through his growing need for cash to help both his MS-afflicted wife (Laurie Holden) and his daughter (Jordan Ashley Olson), to move out of their slum neighborhood to a better and safer neighborhood. The character-driven film sparkles as a redeemed in Hollywood circles Gibson, after directing “Hacksaw Ridge,” again shows his talent overcomes his previous anti-Semitic missteps, while Vaughn has hit his peak with this director and smoothly delivers the wit the script calls for in his nasty anti-hero role.

The film gives us solid robbery and stake-out scenes, some droll comedy relief, and an ambiguous cynical old-school conclusion about its moral take on the modern issues raised. Don Johnson plays with conviction a police department big-shot and the former partner of Gibson. The career African-American criminal (Tory Kittles) is just released from a long prison sentence and unable to get a legitimate job. He’s recruited by his childhood friend (Michael Jai White) to be the getaway driver for the bank robbery masterminded by the ruthless gangster played by Thomas Kretschmann character–the one our unfortunate cops are targeting to make their big score, in a heist that takes a sadistic turn. Jennifer Carpenter becomes part of the subplot, who plays a new mom who hates thinking about going back to work in the bank. I have no idea where the title is derived, but the edgy B-film, with arthouse pretenses, lays a good foundation for its bad-cop drama.

REVIEWED ON 3/1/2019 GRADE: B   https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/