Run Time: 132 Mins
What To Expect: A masterpiece, ‘Bradley Smith’ is now a name that’ll go alongside Paul Kersey, John Matrix and Rambo
This type of movie only shows up once in a decade or so, shit, maybe even once a generation. A film that fires on all cylinders and never misses a note. This is, probably, the manliest prison movie ever made. It may not quite be the best, but it sure as fuck is the manliest. And that is what we are here for. I didn’t know if S. Craig Zahler could ever outdo Bone Tomahawk, or if Vince Vaughn could outdo Hacksaw Ridge. This one is better than both. Now, ‘Bradley Smith’ is probably going to become legendary, a meme and second nature avatar.
Vaughn is Bradley, a down on his luck mechanic with a short fuse and strong fighting skills. With a baby on the way with wife Lauren (Jennifer Carpenter), Bradley has to put some money in the bank and uses his skills as a drug runner. Obviously, things go south and he gets put in jail, where he must do things against his will, blackmailed. To say more about the story would spoil it, for those who have not seen this masterpiece yet.
The film is extraordinary, in that each minute is better than the last. Zahler knows how to not waste a minute of screenplay or film time, and also knows the art of subtlety as well as other masters of the craft like David Chase. For instance, scenes where Vaughn is simply driving around have tension, because you genuinely don’t know what is going to happen, given the violent lunacy that came prior. Scenes like this build towards the third act, where Vaughn is in the darkest prison hole in the world, ran by the ruthless warden (Don Johnson).
The film escalates its violence beyond belief, mixed with Zahler’s trademark black humor — Zahler laces the whole thing with wise ass, salty, subtle dialogue that Quentin Tarantino has long since lost the knack for. And Vaughn delivers with deadpan expertise. I gotta tell you, the fight between Vaughn and the martial artist at the end of this show was one of the most hilarious fucking things I’ve ever seen in a movie. All filmed in a lucid manner too, these AAA+ fight scenes, even in awkward places like narrow dark hallways, were completed by a directorial and editing expert. The fight scenes are so good you won’t even be able to chew food that is in your mouth while watching them, such will be your slack jawedness!
I think we said something earlier this year, that the amazing Shot Caller would not be beaten, especially as a prison movie. Well, this, for certain, will not be beaten. Gentlemen, this thing is damned astonishing!