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The Drop (Review)

 

"Like Drive or Killing Them Softly, The Drop is more interested on its characters than on plot twists or big reveals. And with a cast as strong as what is assembled here, that’s exactly how it should be."

 

  by Rob Rector

For those left unsatisfied by the finale of The Sopranos, -- or even those open to explore alternative endings -- I suggest you run out and check The Drop, James Gandolfini in his final cinematic role.

Of course, there are countless other reasons to check out the latest flick, but Gandolfini’s role as a one-time big-shot hustler reduced to a late-life bar owner who essentially collects cash for a more-ruthless Russian mob, works well within the former show’s narrative.

The Drop
Directed by Michaël R. Roskam
Cast Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini
Release Date 12 September 2014
Rob's Grade: B

Written by Dennis Lehane, who based it off one of his own short stories, the film drips with the same dread that marked his previous films such as Mystic River, and Gone Baby Gone and acts as further extension of a stage for Tom Hardy’s big-screen dominance.

Set in a Brooklyn dive bar that serves as a pass-through for all sorts of illegal laundering by a group of ruthless Eastern Bloc mafiosos, The Drop is an intimate slow-burn that builds to a predictable-but-wholly satisfying conclusion. Gandolfini plays Marv, the bar’s former owner before it was overrun, and Hardy is Bob, his doggedly loyal bartender who turns a blind eye to the shadier side of the business, but is quick to mop up after “things get dirty.”

Bob is like a white Mike Tyson -- hulking, seemingly shy and soft-spoken, occasionally sprinkling his dialogue with five-dollar vocabulary, and a look of sheer, unstoppable menace if backed into a corner. He seems a bit too earnest and helpful to keep the company he does, including Nadia (played by Noomi Rapace), a damaged dame with an attraction to sketchy dudes.

Marv’s bar is held up one evening, which angers its mob men proprietors, who inform him he has a couple days to cough up the cash or face some rather unsettling consequences. Meanwhile, Bob stumbles across a pit bull puppy left for dead in a trash can outside of Nadia’s place and makes it his mission to nurse the little fella back to health.

Director Michael Roskam may be from Belgium, but he feels right at home with the Brooklyn backdrop. The same can be said for its international cast. Gandolfini is as New York as Lady Liberty, but Rapace adds understated vulnerability as the immigrant Nadia and Roskam’s fellow countryman and frequent collaborator Matthias Schoenaerts adds a creepy authenticity to his role as a local eccentric hothead with ties to both Nadia and the puppy.

But it’s Hardy who keeps us glued to the screen. His every glance is filled with suppressed fury that could easily boil to a head. But Hardy makes Bob such a likeable lout because we see him struggle to stay clean despite the decay surrounding him.

Like Drive or Killing Them Softly, The Drop is more interested on its characters than on plot twists or big reveals. And with a cast as strong as what is assembled here, that’s exactly how it should be.

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