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Dir: Michaël R. Roskam
Starring: Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini, Noomi Rapace, Matthias Schoenaerts, and John Ortiz
Monte’s Rating: 3.25 out of 5.00
Movie Review — “The Drop”
MONTE YAZZIE ~ THE FOOTHILLS FOCUS~ 9/24/2014
The moment the familiar voice-over narration introduces “The Drop,” it’s obvious what kind of film will follow. A quiet man, a lonely woman, tough guy gangsters, and a dive bar establish the setup for director Michaël R. Roskam’s crime film. While the majority of the film is a mere cutout of other better films, the performances are terrific. “The Drop” marks the final film for James Gandolfini, who died last June. Gandolfini brings the flair and intimidation of one of his most memorable characters to this role. Roskam’s film suffers from uneven and clichéd storytelling but is elevated by stellar performances.
Bob (Tom Hardy) pours drinks at a local blue-collar bar named after the owner Marv (James Gandolfini). At one point in the past Marv was a feared man, but his days of control have been taken over by a group of Chechen mobsters who run the Brooklyn neighborhood and utilize the bar for their dealings. Bob unintentionally gains the attention of a woman named Nadia (Noomi Rapace) after he finds an abused dog in her trashcan. Bob, forced into caring for the puppy, gains unwanted and dangerous attention from Nadia’s past. After a robbery at the bar, Bob and Marv are strong-armed by the mob into repaying the stolen money.
Screenwriter Dennis Lehane adapts one of his short stories entitled “Animal Rescue.” Lehane’s work isn’t new to the big screen; a few of his adaptations include “Gone Baby Gone” and “Mystic River.” “The Drop” unfortunately doesn’t come close to the quality of the aforementioned films. Lehane stretches the narrative to the extent of losing the mystery and stifling any built tension, though his characters are crafted well enough to mask some of the flaws within the story. Every character is branded with a dark past with equally dark sins that continue to define their existence. Kindhearted Bob rescues the hurt dog, unknowingly walking into the path of a sociopathic loner who forces Bob to confront the fears of his past. Time, specifically in regards to the past, is a key element intertwined into every character’s motivation here.
The performances are great. Tom Hardy is exceptional as a man whose actions speak louder than the few words he mutters. Nothing surprises him, even when the gruesome gift of a severed limb shows up. Bob’s methodical handling of the situation displays more about his character than him explaining with some overlong monologue. James Gandolfini is threatening and apprehensive, a man who is first to talk but never the first to get his hands dirty. Gandolfini’s emotional duality starts subtly but exaggerates as the situation slips further out of his control.
“The Drop” can be rather messy and unsurprising from a narrative standpoint, but the measured performances from the group of exceptional actors keep the film worthwhile to watch. Hardy again demonstrates his developing skill, while Gandolfini offers one final display of his impressive talent that will be sorely missed.