Director: Michaël R. Roskam.
Screenplay: Dennis Lehane.
Starring: Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini, Matthias Schoenearts, Noomi Rapace, John Ortiz, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Michael Aranov, Morgan Spector, Michael Esperanto, James Fresheville, Tobias Segal, Chris Sullivan, Patricia Squire, Ann Dowd.
“Are you doing something desperate? Something we can’t clean up this time?”
The Drop is one of those films that almost sneaks by an audience but strangely there’s still something that catches the eye. That something may be because it’s yet another adaptation of the normally successful page to screen transfer of crime novelist Dennis Lehane (Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River & Shutter Island); the English language debut of Bullhead director Michaël R. Roskam or that it features the last screen performance of the late, great James Gandolfini. All of these are reason enough to see it, but the one that really makes it worthwhile is the ubiquitous and quietly commanding Tom Hardy.
Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) is a lonely, unassuming bartender working with his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini) in his Brooklyn bar. Marv is a bit of a has-been who lost his bar to incoming Chechen gangsters who use the establishment as a “drop” for illegal money takings. However, when the bar is robbed it puts them in a tight spot and leads to an investigation that brings up the past and the depths of the neighbourhood’s criminal affairs.This is a film that has come in for a fair bit of criticism from numerous corners and criticism that I, personally, find a little harsh. Predominantly, the issues many have stem from plot strands not coming together or Lehane going a bit on the soft side and to a minor extent I can agree with this. There are some problems with the narrative, namely a religious sub-plot involving John Ortiz’s church-going cop that feels misplaced and underdeveloped and the talented likes of Noomi Rapace is wasted in a woefully underwritten supporting role. However, what the film manages to capture is a perfect sombre mood and uses a patient approach that very much works in it’s favour.Cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis captures Brooklyn in all it’s blue collar edginess while the two central characters in Bob and Marv are afforded the space to grow and develop at their own pace – resulting in both Gandolfini and, especially, Hardy raising the film to a whole other level. There’s also a good support from rising Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts (Bullhead, Rust and Bone). However, Gandolfini’s presence hangs heavily over the film and it’s a real shame that this is the last we’ll see of this fantastic actor. That being said, he’s not the main player and you get the impression that Gandolfini is happy to step aside and allow Hardy to do his thing.I don’t suppose there’s anything here that hasn’t been done before but that still doesn’t take away from this slow-burning, gritty drama. It’s a fine addition to a sub-genre that I have a real soft spot for and that’s, ultimately, down to the strong performances. Roskam has a good command over Lehane’s prose and dialogue but as intriguing as the elusive plot is, it comes secondary to the characterisation. And in the hands of Hardy and Gandolfini, there’s plenty of that to be had.We may have lost a great actor that’ll be hard to replace in Gandolfini, however, rising star Schoenaerts is deservedly becoming more prolific and Tom Hardy just continually manages to impress. The Drop‘s low-life tale of criminality benefits from seeing all three deliver solid work. Mark Walker
Trivia: Before starring together in the film, Tom Hardy’s performance in Bronson (2008) and Matthias Schoenaerts’s performance in Bullhead (2011) were Steven Ogg’s inspirations to play the crazed Trevor Phillips in the video game Grand Theft Auto V. Steven Ogg revealed his inspirations at New York Comic Con in October 2013.