The Drop Review

The Drop

The Drop, a new film from Belgian director Michael R Roskam, boasts a stylishly epic promotion poster.

The Brooklyn Bridge features in the background, whilst in the foreground we see a hand holding an upward-pointing gun. The hand bisects the bridge and is positioned in such a way that the gun barrel itself appears to be holding up the bridge’s suspension cables.

This all suggests a lot about crime and its divisive effect on, yet integral role within, the fabric of New York city.

Rich territory for mining, you might think.

But sadly, such is the premise on which the film, to be honest, fails to deliver.

Instead, this is a smaller story about small crimes, set within a small neighbourhood.

It’s the tale of Bob Saginowsky (Tom Hardy), a seemingly meek bartender who works in a bar which is frequently used as a depository or ‘drop’ for ill-gotten cash on certain nights of the year.

Bob goes to mass regularly and, despite his involvement in wider dodgy dealings, he tried to keep his nose clean and his head down. He works with Marv (James Gandolfini), who runs the bar, under rule of some local Chechen gangsters.

One evening, on his way home from work, Bob happens upon an abused and abandoned puppy, trapped in the garbage bin of a young girl called Nadia (Noomi Rapace).

Bob agrees to take the puppy home and care for it, leading to all sorts of problems when the dog’s actual owner comes a-calling.

In the meantime, two small-time hoods are staking out Marv’s bar, in anticipation for a record ‘drop’ haul come Super Bowl night.

Suffice to say, the various plot threads intermingle and culminate in a violent resolution.

The film is an adaptation of a short story called Animal Rescue by Dennis Lehane, who himself adapted his own script back into a novel.

Get your head around that one.

Tom Hardy, as usual, puts his all into the central role. It’s just a pity that the role itself is written as somewhat of a muddled affair.

Bob careers so uncomfortably from mild mannered to calculating to psychopathic that it’s hard to pin down his true intentions and motivations. Which would all be ok if Bob wasn’t the viewer’s anchor character.

Noomi Rapace, who is heading further down the typecasting road of ‘troubled tough guy’s crumpet’, is pretty solid as Nadia, though isn’t given much to do other than tense interaction with her unhinged local love interests.

But the real reason most people are going to see this film is the fact that it is the swansong outing for James Gandolfini; however, Gandolfini’s performance here is only remarkable for the fact that it was his last. He plays the shady-but-world-weary type that he could have played in his sleep.

The most impressive turn comes from Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts as Eddie Deeds. Twitchy and troubled, whenever he is onscreen, Deeds injects some welcome unpredictability to the proceedings.

Overall, given the international credentials of himself and his cast, Roskam makes a decent stab at evoking blue-collar Brooklyn. It’s just a shame that the characters which populate it are not equipped with meatier and deeper storylines.

Jonathan Campbell

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November 2014
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