THE DROP opened in theatres on September 12, 2014. It is a new crime drama that takes an inside look at organized crimes use of New York City bars from director Michaël R. Roskam who has only one other feature film credit, BULLHEAD which nabbed him an Academy Award nomination. The screenplay is written by Dennis Lahane and based on his own short story titled “Animal Rescue”. Lehane is also the author of other novels that made their way to the big screen MYSTIC RIVER, SHUTTER ISLAND and GONE BABY GONE. The film stars Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, and John Ortiz and marks the last feature film of the late great James Gandolfini.
The film is centered around a lonely Brooklyn bartender Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) who works at his cousin Marv’s bar. Marv (James Gandolfini) is your typical tough guy who may have been a heavy hitter in the past but because of more than a few bad deals he lost the bar to the Chechen mob years ago, even though the bar is still called Cousin Marv’s. Part of this new ownership isn’t just that the money is no longer Marv’s but the bar also serves as a “drop” bar to launder illegal gambling money. While Marv and Bob are counting the drawer one night after closing two masked gunman hold up the bar and take all the money in the drawer. While Marv tries to remain the tough guy that he thinks he is, he asks the gunman “Do you know who you are stealing from” bob remains silent and steady while the two robbers leave the bar with $5,000 cash. It is only after they leave that they see one of their other workers had been knocked out and has a pretty nasty gash on the back of his head causing the two to call the ambulance and the police, something they had not wanted to do. Getting the police involved in a robbery to a “drop” bar is never a good thing. The Chechen mob pay a visit to Bob and Marv to make sure they hear them loud and clear that they must get back the money that was stolen and must not involve the cops in any of it.
When Bob is walking home late from the bar one night, around the same time of the robbery, he hears a whimpering coming from a trash can outside a neighbor’s house and opens it to find a pit-bull puppy that has been terribly beaten. Nadia (Noomi Rapace) who lives in the house comes outside to see why the man is rummaging through her garbage. Together the two take the puppy indoors and clean up his wounds. Bob enlists Nadia to help him learn to care for and raise this adorable pup who he names Rocco after seeing a St. Rocco statue with a dog in the church he visits daily. Nadia he learns, has a few dark secrets of her own and the two quickly turn down an interesting path in their relationship. The one thing Bob isn’t prepared for is the local thug, Eric Deeds, who left the puppy for dead in the garbage, has an extremely dark past and is about to come back to collect the dog or go to the authorities, which is the last thing Bob needs, but he is not willing to let Rocco go back to the man who beat him even if it means being blackmailed. While the search for the money intensifies and Deeds proves that he will not back down, Bob seems to be backed into a corner with no one to go to, and few ways out, but as secrets are revealed, loyalty is tested and we are left with blurred lines of good versus evil.
THE DROP is a gritty crime drama that will have you at the edge of your seats waiting to see what happens next. It is absolutely thrilling and while it is not a fast-paced action movie it is however a slow and extremely thought out smart story that will keep you guessing till the end. The intensity brought by not only the actors but also the story, which is credited to Dennis Lahane, is astounding and refreshing to watch. James Gandolfini is of course amazing as he slips right back into the role he was born to play, a wise guy, that you love to hate and even feel bad for at times. It is wonderful performance worthy of his final bow in the industry. The most rewarding performance is most definitely that of Tom Hardy, the quiet, steady, pensive, sometimes slow Bob Saginowksi. As the movie progresses, like layers of an onion, we see layers peeled away to hone on in on this very interesting and different man. He shines in the film and proves again that he is not only versatile but gives us an Oscar worthy performance. There are times in the film that Hardy’s performance gave Bob striking similarities to Lenny in “Of Mice And Men”. There are moments in the film when you see Bob has a heart bigger than most he deals with, like when Marv harasses him about letting an old woman sit in his stool and keep a bar tab that she will never be able to pay off and then there are these other moments where you know that not only has Bob had a rough life but there may be frightening things about him that we probably would be better off not knowing. It is astonishing to watch Hardy take on each layer of this very intriguing character.
There is nothing worse than an amazing film that has a supporting cast of unnecessary characters but that is not the case here. Each and every role was not only expertly cast but drew you in even more to this tangled web of organized crime. Matthias Schoenaerts gives a notable performance as the wildly unhinged Eric Deeds, there are literally moments in the film that just watching him makes you feel uncomfortable and nervous and leaves you with a pit in your stomach wondering what in the world he is up to. It is truly remarkable.
Much like the film as you watch, you look from the outside silently stalking, grasping for new information while the pieces of the puzzle slowly fall together in an ending that I felt was extremely powerful and fulfilling. Instead of the flashy volatile action scenes you normally get with mob filled crime drama’s THE DROP steadily and meticulously gives you a beautifully paced neo-noir type film that will blur the lines between right and wrong and may have you second-guessing your own moral compass.