Film: The Drop
Director: Michael R. Roskam
Primary Cast: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini, Matthias Schoenaerts, John Oritz
U.S. Release Date: 12 September 2014
It was starting to feel like it’d been ages since I’d seen a movie in a theater so, on Tuesday, I went to see The Drop. Why? Two reasons: 1) Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace are in it 2) It was the only half decent looking film playing at the closest theater.
Thanks largely to Tom Hardy, The Drop is a solid film that manages to feel fresher than it probably is.
The Drop is based on the short story “Animal Rescue” by Dennis Lehane (who also wrote the screenplay for this film).
Bob Saginowski (Hardy) is a soft-spoken bartender who works for his cousin, Marv (Gandolfini) in Brooklyn. Bob also attends mass ever Sunday, but never takes communion. Anyway, Marv used to own the bar, but now the Chechen mob does, and Marv doesn’t really like that at all. Also, it’s a “drop bar” . . . so yeah, shady stuff. Despite all the shady stuff, Bob keeps his head down, and, by and large, seems the type who just doesn’t want any trouble.
On his way home from work one night, Bob finds a beaten (and absolutely adorable) pit bull puppy in a trash can. The owner of the trash can, Nadia (Rapace) helps get the dog cleaned up, and encourages Bob to take the dog in. Over the course of the film, the two become friends because puppy.
Then, Marv’s bar is robbed. Since the money that was taken belongs to the Chechen mob, this is not good news for Marv and Bob. Also not good news for Marv and Bob is the interest that a loyal detective (Ortiz) takes in their bar after the robbery.
Also also not good news (for Bob, not Marv) is that the man who claims to own the pit bull puppy (Schoenaerts) shows up and starts being hella creepy and threatening.
Annnnnd, that’s all I’m going to say about that, because I don’t want to spoil anything.
Tom Hardy. Tom Hardy. Tom Hardy.
I love Tom Hardy (did you see, that’s the title of the review?), and anyone who has seen The Drop should know why. Bob is a complex but quiet character and Hardy plays him wonderfully. Hardy’s performance is subtle, fully-realized, and has incredible depth. Had a lesser actor been cast as Bob, The Drop would have suffered immensely. Bob is the heart of the film and his morals become its morals. Whether there is much substance behind those “morals,” is left up for debate, but he’s an interesting and thoroughly likable character all the same.
Gandolfini also does a fine job in the film (also his last). As with Bob, (though in a different way) there is much more to Marv than his words indicate. Marv is a desperate man who is fighting a lot of internal battles, and Gandolfini conveys that well (particularly with his eyes).
Rocco (the dog) does a really good job of making you want to go out and adopt a dog.
Rapace and Schoenaerts also give solid performances. Not exceptional, but perfectly solid.
The film’s plot(s) keep the viewer engrossed, which is good I guess. The film does a good job of withholding information to accomplish this.
(wow what a pointless statement sorry)
I also enjoyed just how tense this film manages to be despite a considerable lack of “action” and violence. This is not to say that the film is without bloodshed, but that it often keeps viewers on the edge of their seats and directs them to expect the worse even when the worse doesn’t happen. There are no chase scenes, no shoot outs, but there is plenty of anticipation of such actions, which makes for a rather enjoyable viewing experience.
Lastly, as with Bob, Marv, Nadia, and the pit bull, there really is more to The Drop than meets the eye. This is not a film whose only attraction is its plot details or its cast member’s faces (to be fair, Hardy and Rapace do have great faces). Rather, the film/Lehane’s script tries to say something more. It may not always succeed in doing so, but I do appreciate the effort.
The Not So Good
Sadly, I don’t think the film was edited as well as it could have been. In particular, several of the scenes focusing on Ortiz’s character felt unnecessary and interrupted the flow of the film; personally, I would have cut at least two of the scenes in which Ortiz appears, but Hardy does not. I also didn’t care for Ortiz’s performance/character as he seemed to interrupt the mood the film was going for.
I also feel like the film didn’t utilize Rapace well enough. She is a fine actress and there is nothing wrong with her performance in this film, but her character was under-written. Had Nadia been given the sort of depth and complexity that Bob has, it would have elevated the film considerably imho.
The Drop also falls a bit short when it comes to its pacing and plot. The film’s plot becomes rather complicated as the film goes on, but the details start to get unfortunately muddled near the end. Also, at times (usually when Hardy is not on screen), the film slows more than it should which, in turn, makes it more difficult to keep up with the details of it’s multiple narratives.
Soooo . . .
The Drop is certainly a solid film. Yes, it could have been better. It could have presented its material in a tighter and more thought-provoking way, but it really is worth seeing. For those who like slow-burning, moody crime dramas, The Drop fits the bill just fine. Though some of the film’s specific plot points and “twists” do feel a bit unoriginal, the film itself does not. Ultimately, strong performances help this film stand out despite its flaws, and Hardy fans in particular are sure to enjoy this film as it showcases the actor’s skills tremendously.
Thanks so much for reading. What did you think of The Drop? Feel free to let me know with a comment below.