Review: 'The Drop'


[vc_row][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]It’s been a year of lasts for hefty movie stars: first we had Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final hurrah, and now it’s the last dance for the tragically departed James Gandolfini. The Drop isn’t Gandolfini-centric, though; it mostly concerns itself with Bob (Tom Hardy), a bartender at Cousin Marv’s Bar. Bob is a simple, precise and slow man who seems like your run-of-the-mill cinematic henchman. His bar is used by the local mob as one of several drop spots: folks come in with envelopes of money, which are dropped in a safe underneath the bar until they’re ready to be retrieved in the dead of night.

According to Bob, the titular Marv (Gandolfini) once had a crew of local toughs but “blinked” in a showdown with a rival faction; now the bar is owned by an intimidating bunch of Chechnyan gangsters. This, unsurprisingly, does not sit well with the nostalgic (and cash-strapped) Marv. And when the bar is robbed one night, both cops and robbers start stopping by and asking question about the bar’s past and present.

In the midst of all this, Bob finds a puppy in the trashcan of Nadia (Noomi Rapace), a local waitress. He ends up adopting the dog and falling for the girl, which leads to complications with her psychotic ex-boyfriend (Matthias Schoenaerts) that even money can’t resolve.

If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is. Director Michaël R. Roskam seems to be aiming to make Cousin Marv’s Bar (and its surrounding terrain) feel lived in, a couple of blocks that exist before the film and will continue to be afterwards. But you can’t force that kind of resonance, and simply reciting the history of a place and its inhabitants doesn’t allow us to naturally accept the situation. It feels forced.

Luckily, Roskam (in his second feature after 2011’s Bullhead) has assembled an expert cast to smooth the edges a bit. Hardy’s performance in particular is phenomenal; there’s no trace of his English accent, and his plodding gait is the perfect physical embodiment of Bob’s perceived dullness. In addition, his budding relationship with Nadia comes across as less about sex and more about companionship; they’re damaged people who like having each other around, even if they can’t express those feelings verbally or physically. Hardy and Rapace make that brokenness feel as natural as a rainstorm.

And, of course, Gandolfini. It’s a shame that he’s going out playing another frustrated mobster, rather than, say, his darkly comedic general in In The Loop or his beefy love interest in Enough Said, but I suppose it’s fitting for the man who was once Tony Soprano. Marv is Tony if it all went to shit but the opposition forgot (or didn’t care) to whack him afterwards. He’s neutered and he knows it, and Gandolfini has always had a knack for quiet, impatient desperation.

Unfortunately, the film doesn’t make much use of its forcefully depicted Brooklyn backdrop; screenwriter Dennis Lehane is known for setting almost all of his stories in the Boston area, but he chose the New York borough for this particular tale as a way to “stretch his wings.” Ultimately, though, it could’ve been set anywhere; there’s very little about the script that feels innately wedded to the city or its residents.

Lehane is also known for his twists (Shutter Island, Mystic River) and The Drop is no exception. Without spoiling anything, what happens is intriguing but sends the film reeling off course; it seems to lose its tone, or adopt an entirely different one, in the twist’s aftermath. By the end I wasn’t sure whether to laugh, frown or be repulsed at certain characters; that’s not the best way to wrap up your story.

I wish I could sum up the themes of The Drop in a sentence or two. Maybe something about not judging a book by its cover, or how loving something (or someone) can bring out both the best and the worst in people. But it’s just not that complex; it’s a sluggish, traditional crime drama that doesn’t give its characters more than the requisite two dimensions. Having talent like Hardy, Schoenaerts and the late Gandolfini on-hand helps the material rise above being an adaptation of a beach book aimed at 40-year-old men, but not by much. It’s a relatively enjoyable lark that falls apart under close examination.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/3"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"][mk_fancy_title tag_name="h2" style="true" color="#393836" size="14" font_weight="inhert" margin_top="0" margin_bottom="18" font_family="none" align="left"]Details:[/mk_fancy_title]

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  • Directed by: Michaël R. Roskam
  • Written by: Dennis Lehane
  • Starring: Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini, Noomi Rapace, Matthias Schoenaerts
  • Runtime: 106 minutes
  • Release date: September 12, 2014


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