New Review: The Drop (2014)
Director: Michaël R. Roskam
Cast: Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini, Noomi Rapace, John Ortiz, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Aronov, Ann Dowd
When I think of actor Tom Hardy, I think of Bane from The Dark Knight Rises, Forrest Bondurant from Lawless, and Eames from Inception. I think of characters who are strong and charismatic, with some who often come across as intimidating figures. It's not often you see him playing characters who are timid, sensitive, and socially awkward, but that's what he plays in the 2014 crime movie The Drop, and he's really very good at it.
In the movie, Hardy plays Bob Saginowski, who works at a Brooklyn bar managed by his cousin Marv (the late James Gandalfini), which is just one of many bars where local Chechen mobsters are known to make their money drops. We know there is something eating away at him, because he goes to Mass regularly but refuses to take communion (there are other hints as well, but they're best left unsaid). One night while walking home, he hears a dog whimpering inside of a trash can in front of a house owned by a woman named Nadia (Noomi Rapace). She catches him going through her trash, cleans the dog, dresses its wounds, and encourages Bob to adopt it. After giving it some thought, he agrees.
Like Bob, Nadia is haunted by a past that she would soon rather forget. There are scars on her neck from where she cut herself with a potato peeler while high. "I was a totally different person then," she tells Bob. "I didn't really like myself." There is a real sweetness in the scenes where Nadia and Bob bond as they both try to take care of the dog, especially during their (and the movie's) final scene. Unfortunately, Nadia's abusive ex-boyfriend Eric (Matthias Schoenaerts) shows up claiming that the dog is his, and threatens Bob if he doesn't return it to him.
Eric, however, is but the least of Bob's worries. One night while closing, two thugs come in and rob cousin Marv's place. The thieves only take the money from the register (leaving the mob money in the safe behind the counter alone), but since the Chechen's own the establishment, that was still their money that was taken, and they make it very clear that they want Marv and Bob to find the men responsible in a gruesome moment where the Chechans show them a man in the back of a van with his foot nailed into the floor with an industrial screw. The robbery also draws the attention of a local cop named Torres (John Ortiz), who sees Bob daily at Mass, and who's interested in a ten year old unsolved murder of a kid named Richie "Glory Days" Whelan (it seems Eric is taking credit for the crime).
There are many twists in the plot, so it can't be discussed in further detail. Some of the big reveals you might see coming well in advance, and some you probably won't. The secrets of the plot are not as interesting as the quieter character moments and the way in which the actors play them. Gandolfini, in his last acting role, is terrific as a man who's grown bitter by his current situation. He and Bob ran a gang once, and they were feared and respected until the Chechens came in and took over. Marv has nothing but contempt for them, which he reveals in a very well-written and acted scene between him and Bob.
The rest of the cast is strong. The always lovely Noomi Rapace makes her Nadia into a kind and sympathetic figure, and Matthias Schoenaerts is very good as character you just love to hate. Michael Aronov is menacing as the son of the head of the Chechan mob family (although he's not in the movie for very long), Ortiz makes the most out his barely used character, and Ann Dowd (as Marv's sister) has a very good scene with Gandolfini where they discuss the unpleasant situation involving their father. As good as the cast is, it's ultimately Tom Hardy who dominates the movie. He may appear to be timid and meek, but Hardy has a way of suggesting something dark lurking beneath the surface, such as the scene where he has to wrap up a severed arm in seran wrap, or the monologue he delivers to Eric during the climax of the movie.
Director Michaël R. Roskam establishes a chillingly dark and grim atmosphere, and while the screenplay by Dennis Lehane (based on his short story Animal Rescue) may feel cluttered in the earlier scenes, it's a pleasure to see how all the many story threads come together in the end. He also creates characters who are both well-rounded and, despite their violent tendencies, surprisingly sympathetic. It may take a while for The Drop to get going, but if you're patient with it, it proves to be a very rewarding experience in the end.
Rated R for some strong violence, lots of profanity
Final Grade: *** (out of ****)
What did you think about this movie? :)
Other Thoughts on The Drop (2014)
- The Drop - Film Calendar - The Austin Chronicle
Based on a Dennis Lehane story, this disappointing crime drama costars James Gandolfini in his last role.
- MOVIE REVIEW: 'The Drop' a thriller on simmer - Entertainment - The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, MA - Qui
Boston-bred Dennis Lehane wrote the screenplay for this taut crime drama, and James Gandolfini stars in his final role.
- DROP, THE
- The Drop Movie Review & Film Summary (2014) | Roger Ebert
- Combustible Celluloid Review - The Drop (2014), Dennis Lehane, based on his short story "Animal Resc