The Drop: Movie Review
Cast: Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini, Noomi Rapace, John Ortiz
Director: Michael R Roskam
Destined to be known forever as The Sopranos star James Gandolfini's last ever film role, The Drop is a hard-hitting crime drama set on the streets of Brooklyn from Dennis Lehane.
Tom Hardy stars as soft-spoken bartender Bob Saginowski, who works at Cousin Marv's bar (run by Cousin Marv played by James Gandolfini). But the bar is one of a series of bars that operates in the criminal underworld as a "drop bar", where money's funnelled to the local gangsters.
When Cousin Marv's bar is robbed, the ensuing investigation and twists - as well as the complications caused by picking up a pitbull pup found on the cusp of death in a bin at a woman's house - and Bob's got all manner of problems in Dennis Lehane's adaptation of his own short story.
The Drop is a solid crime thriller, with an understated Gandolfini and a restrained Hardy (replete with adorable puppy guaranteed to melt the internet with the subsequent memes) proving to be the main draw-cards. Theirs is the bond which binds us through the streets of Brooklyn and negotiates the complications and vice-tightening draw of the underworld.
Choosing not to mire these two in back-story, Lehane's script teases out details and insinuates a past that's both perceivable and implied; there's a menace among the threats that works infinitely better thanks to the use of the casual overtones. Noomi Rapace's Nadia (from whose bin Bob rescues the dog) is perhaps the weak link though - her damaged persona serving only to offer up a limited amount of tension and suspense as the final act plays out.
Maudlin and melancholy, Roskam's steeped this movie in parts which are occasionally hard to engage in. While Hardy's impressive as the soft-hearted thug throughout, his character's aloofness makes it difficult to engage with as the dourness builds to an inevitable conclusion. Gandolfini seems to play a version of Tony Soprano, albeit one that's dipped in melancholy weariness, a street cynicism that suggests he's seen it all before but can't find his way out or to the top. It's a symbolic end for him / Cousin Marv, but a sign the actor was likely to further deliver greatness had he continued.
As brooding disparate threads pull tightly together at the end, the simmering mix that's been bubbling away merely comes together in a fizzle rather than the emotional crack that's really needed - and that's despite Hardy's magnetic presence.
The Drop's impressive in parts but overall, its story-telling doesn't quite come together in the way you'd hope or expect to raise it into the echelons of truly great crime dramas.