The Drop, 2014.
Directed by Michaël R. Roskam.
Starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini, Matthias Schoenaerts, Elizabeth Rodriguez, James Frecheville and John Ortiz.
Bob Saginowski just tends bar, keeping himself to himself as gangsters use his bar as ‘The Drop’ to funnel cash between gangs in the course of a night. But when the bar is robbed, he gets caught between good guys, gangsters and a pitbull named Rocco.
The Drop, the screenwriting debut of crime novelist Dennis Lehane (Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River), might not reach the heights of either of those films, but it’s an entertaining, slow burning crime drama, with a great central performance by Tom Hardy.
Set in the bowels of Brooklyn, where there seems to be more bars than stools for folk to sit on, it’s a low key drama, where every character is hiding something shady about their past. But it’s Tom Hardy’s character, Bob, that’s got the most to hide. Keeping himself to himself, he just tends bar and insists that’s he’s out of ‘the life’.
In a similar turn to Ryan Gosling’s strong, silent type in Drive, he’s a character that’s capable of so much more than he lets on – not even flinching when his bar is robbed or when he’s presented with a piece of damning evidence later in the film. The Drop is about him, which also works against the film in some instances, preventing many of the other characters in the film from making as big an impression. But that’s not to say that the rest of the cast are underused. Noomi Rapace is great as the love interest, who bonds with Bob as they look after an abandoned puppy. She’s the damsel in distress to some extent, but she’s content to be associated with bad men and big trouble – to become the victim.
The real tension comes when her ex boyfriend, Eric Deeds, is introduced. Played by Matthias Schoenaerts, it’s an intense performance – and incidentally, the most convincing ‘Noo Yawk’ accent in the entire film. He can play the heavy, as seen in director Michael R Roskam’s previous film, Bullhead, another stripped down crime thriller that dealt with masculinity and the idea of being ‘a man’, but in this, he’s chaos at the other side of the spectrum, appearing out of nowhere to make Bob’s life that bit more complicated. If there is a villain in The Drop, it’s Eric Deeds.
But, as much as Tom Hardy is the best part of The Drop, Sopranos fans will undoubtedly come out in force to catch James Gandolfini’s final screen performance. Is it one we’ll remember him by? Probably not – it’s a bit more understated, appearing as a Tony Soprano type that’s past his sell by date, looking for any way to take back the respect that he once had.
Where the film really excels is in the look. Painting Brooklyn as a slice of life documentary at times, it fits right alongside the likes of Friends of Eddie Coyle, Serpico and more recently, Liam Neeson’s A Walk Among the Tombstones, as an old fashion, dialled back thriller. The naturalistic dialogue, especially between Bob and Marv makes you see them not as the stars they are, but as two relatives who have running this bar for years.
Unfortunately, there are a couple of things that prevent The Drop from achieving greatness. John Ortiz shows up as a savvy cop, investigating the robbery at the bar, whose knows a lot more than he lets on, but he’s always on the edge of everything, acting as an audience surrogate to make sure you’ve caught up with the story. If anything, it pulls you out of film and when it’s over, you’re wondering what the point of him was. John Ortiz is a great actor, the film should have used him more often, or not at all.
And then there’s the fact that everything seems to wrap itself up a bit too nicely in the last 15 minutes, ending with a ‘revelation’ that would have been much more powerful had not John Ortiz’s cop told us in simpleton terms five minutes after it happened. It’s unfortunate that Lehane doesn’t trust us to follow his story and figure it out for ourselves in that moment and it shatters the world of bad people and big secrets that we’ve enveloped ourselves in throughout the film.
Still, The Drop is recommended for anyone looking for further proof that Tom Hardy really is, even after stunning turns in Bronson, The Take and Warrior, the great actor that everyone says he is. For everyone else, it’s a great crime thriller that evokes the best of them, without ever really besting them.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Watch the trailer here.