Tom Hardy has taken tough guy portrayals to new levels. Some actors naturally lean towards playing tough characters. It’s hard to see them as anything else. Hardy has that lean but he has managed to offer a number of cool variations. He has played a comic book villain, an MMA fighter, a moonshiner, and a Cold War Russian Agent just to name a few. In “The Drop” he gives us yet another bend to the tough guy character and just as before he does it exceptionally well.
“The Drop” is a Brooklyn crime drama based on a Dennis Lehane short story. Lehane also wrote the screenplay with Michaël R. Roskam directing. Hardy plays a inner city bartender named Bob Saginowski. He works at “Cousin Marv’s”, a bar ran by his appropriately named cousin (played by James Gandolfini in his final role). Marv recently handed his bar to Chechen gangsters who now use it as a drop for money they have coming in.
At closing time two hoods rob the place at gunpoint stealing a load of the Chechen’s money. The gangsters hold Marv and Bob responsible leading them to desperately search for a way out of their predicament. Marv is bullish and old school in his approach to things while Bob is much quieter and a bit of an introvert. This effects how each go about handling what appears to be a dire situation.
Bob is the main character and we learn a lot about him through a dog (of all things). He finds the abused pup in a trashcan belonging to a neighbor named Nadia (Noomi Rapace). The two spark a reluctant relationship which is complicated by her estranged thuggish boyfriend Eric (well played by Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts). The intensity ratchets up as Bob’s bar troubles and his relationship with Nadia come dangerously close to colliding.
Lehane’s script simmers and never allows the story to blow up into an everyday crime thriller. Roskam’s direction keeps thing under control and allows the script and the actors room to work among the seeping tension. I kept expecting it to turn towards the obvious and conventional. It never does. It’s surprisingly calculated and strategic in how it sets up and delivers its story points.
It also doesn’t hurt to have two superb lead performances. Hardy comes across as strikingly genuine and natural – a seamless and perfect fit for his character. Galdolfini’s work is a clear but sad reminder of his immense talents in front of the camera. His ability to absorb the audience in the complexities of his Marv character is a key to the film’s success.
It could be said that there is nothing particularly new or profound about “The Drop”. It’s hard to argue against that view. But at the same time it is a well-made film that may be small in cinematic stature but big in terms of smart and precise storytelling. Toss in a fine cast to help tell your story and the results are sure to be even more promising. Such is the case with “The Drop”.
VERDICT – 4 STARS
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Good review. I’ve always wanted to see this movie. I like Tom Hardy, but I mostly wanted to see it because it was like the second to last (I think) of James Galdonfini’s role before his passing.
I’m thinking this was Gandolfini’s last role. Either way he’s really good in it. But isn’t he always?
It was either this movie or Enough Said. Can’t remember which one.
Yep. They were both out around the same time (he was terrific in Enough Said also).
I missed this one, thankfully it’s on Prime yippee.
Nice! Great cast. I think you’ll enjoy it.
Loved that you’ve circled back to review this — such a bittersweet sight with Gandolfini here. He of course was terrific. But yeah man, Tom Hardy can play tough gangster big or nuanced and more grounded. He’s really good in this and I like how you mention that The Drop may not be profound or truly revolutionary, but it doesn’t need to be. You just need good actors selling the drama.
Exactly! Selling the drama and telling a good story. And they absolutely do with The Drop. I don’t remember hearing a lot of chatter about this one. Did it slip under a lot of radars?
I don’t remember there being much of a buzz about it at all. I managed to get a peak at it at the local indie theater when I was in Tennessee. Oh how I miss having one of those around here in north NJ. It seemed to be the only theater playing it when it came out.
This is a film that I think was on HBO some years ago but I never got the chance to see it as I hope to do that real soon when it comes back on TV.
You should give it a go. Heck of a cast top to bottom.
Underrated movie in my opinion.Hardy and Gandolfini’s scenes together were brilliant. Great final film role for him
Absolutely agree. They had some really good chemistry.