In The Drop, Tom Hardy plays the laconic Bob Saginowski, a bartender in a Brooklyn bar that operates as a front for funnelling cash; ‘money drops,’ to the New York underworld. One night the bar is robbed at gunpoint. Bob along with his employer, and cousin Marv, become involved in the subsequent police investigation which potentially threatens to expose more than just a money laundering operation.
Written by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and Shutter Island) the story is more than just a generic gangster movie. As in Lehane’s previous screenplays the themes of violence, the past and moral dilemmas are present. The Drop is dark and gritty in tone, but nothing feels exaggerated here. Violent scenes are used sparingly, but when they occur the action re-focuses your attention. The story is more concerned with the characters and how they navigate the situation they find themselves in.
James Gandolfini in his final performance (the film is dedicated to him) turns in a strong performance as Cousin Marv, a grizzled former underworld player who laments his past glories. Marv grapples with his current status throughout the film while the uncertainty of his future weighs on his mind. Similarly, Bob’s daily attendance at mass suggests that something weighs heavily on his soul. The Drop is different to generic gangster movies in that it strips the glamour back to examine what is the real cost of a life spent on the other side of the tracks, and why there are some sins that cannot be forgiven.
The film also co-stars Noomi Rapace (Prometheus, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) as Nadia, who meets Bob when he fishes an injured puppy from her garbage cans. A relationship blossoms from their decision to take joint responsibility for the dog, and it is refreshing to see a restrained, perhaps even more realistic approach to how men and women fall in love on screen.
The cast is completed by Belgian actor; Matthias Schoenaerts (Rust and Bone) as Nadia’s unsettling ex-boyfriend Eric Deeds, and John Ortiz (Fast & Furious, American Gangster) as Detective Torres the officer responsible for investigated the robbery at the bar.
The film hinges on a number of key plot twists, which some viewers may work out well in advance of the climax but Tom Hardy’s performance compels you to watch right up until the end. Hardy utilises his ability to draw the viewer in during scene after scene, the movie’s climax would have fallen by the wayside in the hands of a less capable actor.
Hardy is however, upstaged by one cast member; Rocco the pit bull puppy, who both Bob and Nadia rescue. Readers of the Daily Mail will remember the snaps of Hardy with the dog from last year. Not since Uggie in The Artist has one dog had such screen presence and he steals every scene he’s in.
The Drop is not your run of the mill gangster film. Violence takes a back seat to a more character driven story led by Tom Hardy who delivers another solid performance. You may work out the plot twists long before the climax but there is enough to keep you entertained until then.