AESOP’S fable of the tortoise and the hare teaches us that slow, steady, dogged determination always win out against reckless bravado.

Writer-director S Craig 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 and moments of quiet introspection 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.

Dragged Across Concrete delivers plenty of scraped flesh and a lot of navel-gazing as corrupt cops and morally conflicted criminals trade bullets and wisecracks against a vivid backdrop of racial tension and economic hardship.

Detectives Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and Anthony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn) bend the law they are supposed to uphold. Their heavy-handed treatment of one suspect is captured on film and sparks a debate about police brutality. Lieutenant Calvert (Don Johnson) is forced to suspend Ridgeman and Lurasetti without pay.

Both men rely on their pay cheques. Ridgeman’s wife Melanie (Laurie Holden) is a former cop with multiple sclerosis and soaring medical bills, while Lurasetti has recently invested in an engagement ring for his girlfriend (Tattiawna Jones).

To make ends meet, the cops intend to muscle in on a robbery orchestrated by Lorentz Vogelman (Thomas Kretschmann).

Meanwhile, ex-con Henry Johns (Tory Kittles) accepts an offer from best friend Biscuit (Michael Jai White) to work as Vogelman’s getaway drivers.

It will be ‘easy money’ that will help Henry to wrest his mother from drug addiction and prostitution, as well as secure a brighter future for his brother (Myles Truitt). Dragged Across Concrete face-plants subtlety in every brutish scene.

Gibson oozes despair from every pore, riffing convincingly with Vaughn while Jennifer Carpenter delivers an eye-catching supporting turn as a bank teller, who is reluctantly returning to work after maternity leave.

RATING: 6/10