The Drop (2014) Film Review from the 58th Annual BFI London Film Festival, a movie directed by Michael R. Roskam, starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini, John Ortiz, Matthias Schoenaerts, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Michael Aronov, Morgan Spector, Michael Esper, Ross Bickell, and Tobias Segal.
The Drop, based on a short story by Dennis Lehane, is a solid crime thriller that captures the imagination and allows us to get a better look at the full range of Tom Hardy’s acting ability. Despite being the last film to feature the late James Gandolfini, all the attention will undoubtedly go to Tom Hardy, who gave, perhaps, his best performance to date.
Bob Saginowski, played by Tom Hardy, is a bartender at a local Brooklyn bar. Managed by his uncle Marv, played by James Gandolfini, the bar is a meeting place for Chechen gangsters, who use it to launder money, among other things. The Chechens are also the bars owners, Marv having lost it due to his crippling gambling addiction.
Bob is a complex character, to say the least. He has a gruff demeanour, yet his treatment of others reflects a softer soul hidden deep inside, for example, his decision to let a lonely elderly lady sit next to him all day at the bar while he works. Bob’s character develops at a comfortable pace as the film progresses. Bob is also silently intelligent, keeping his head low as the Chechens quietly run the bar. He knows better than to get involved or in their way, an important caution which is apparently lost on his uncle.
The film’s title refers to the large cash deposit that is made to the bar every month. It is one of these ‘Drops’ that sets the film’s events into motion. Not happy with having lost their money, the Chechens demand that Marv repay the lost $5,000. Forced to find a way to get the money, Marv searches within himself for a way out. Marv is hopeless, desperate, and completely out of ideas. Gandolfini added a touch of humanity to a character that could have easily been a periphery figure for most parts of the film. And though, admittedly, Tom Hardy steals the show with his performance, Gandolfini should be credited for a strong supporting role here. Through the subtlest of gestures, Gandolfini shows the hatred Marv has for himself.
As the film progresses, we meet a host of new characters. Nadia, played by Noomi Rapace, meets Bob one night and the two bond over a shared love of dogs. They soon discover that they may have much more in common. Eric Deeds, played by Matthias Schoenaerts, is another such addition in the film. Deeds is a dangerous man with a mysterious past, he has his eyes set on Nadia and is willing to go through others to get to her.
The film has a gritty feel to it, with an air of suspense surrounding every scene. The dark streets of Brooklyn are made to look like they belong in some horror film. The score, though not breath-taking, does an excellent job in building the tension before pivotal scenes.
As good as the film was- there were certain aspects which could have used a bit more work. For instance, some of the characters either aren’t completely developed or they don’t get nearly enough screen time. John Ortiz is the prime example of this. He plays a detective sent to investigate Bob and the bar, yet by the second half of the film you’d be forgiven for forgetting about him. His ‘investigation’, though ongoing, seems like a peripheral storyline in the film.
To put it simply: The Drop was a gripping drama that showcased the talent of an actor who has been slowly building his reputation as a bankable star. The film is character driven with interesting twists that will keep the audience hooked.