Film Reviews: Buttock-numbing film of sickening violence

Dragged Across Concrete. Picture PA.
Dragged Across Concrete. Picture PA.

DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE (18)

Aesop's fable of the tortoise and the hare teaches us that slow, steady, dogged determination always win out against stealthy, reckless abandon.

Writer-director Craig S Zahler has taken this life lesson to heart, setting painfully long fuses on his first two films, blood-soaked western Bone Tomahawk and testosterone-fuelled riot Brawl In Cell Block 99. Both pictures clocked in - unnecessarily - at a buttock-numbing 129 minutes, punctuating self-consciously stylised dialogue with lurid splashes of sickening violence.

His third feature adopts similar shock tactics to recount a bank robbery from multiple perspectives and tests our patience and physical stamina by adding half an hour to the bloated running time. I hope you're sitting comfortably.

GRETA (15)

The kindness of a good Samaritan is ruthlessly exploited by an unlikely predator in Neil Jordan's campy psychological thriller.

Co-written by the Oscar-winning Irish director and Ray Wright, Greta harks back to violent power struggles of 1990s potboilers The Hand That Rocks The Cradle and Single White Female as a twentysomething American waitress and a sexagenarian French piano teacher lock horns on the mean streets of New York. Academy Award nominee Isabelle Huppert and Chloe Grace Moretz are handsomely matched as hunter and prey, investing underwritten roles with menace and tainted innocence as cogs of a linear plot slot into place. Their performances energise and enthral in the absence of originality, which is abducted before first blood can be spilt. A claustrophobic final showdown, replete with sleight of hand, doesn't quite land with the satisfying emotional thud or rush of adrenaline that the scriptwriters promise.