Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini starring in a motion picture based on a short story by Dennis Lehane (Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River, Shutter Island). What could possibly go wrong? Thankfully, not much. The Drop is a solid, small-scale crime film where a dispute over five thousand missing dollars or an abandoned puppy can become every bit as dangerous as the elaborate heists and turf wars between gangsters that we usually find in modern crime thrillers.
Bob (Tom Hardy) is a bartender at a neighborhood watering hole that used to be owned by his cousin, Marv (Gandolfini). At some point, the Chechen mob took over Marv’s bar, and he’s now an employee in the establishment he once owned. He keeps his bitterness to himself and defers to his European bosses to the point of near-embarrassment. Local underworld types make cash drops at the bar, and Marv watches the money until it goes to its rightful owners, vouching for its safety whether he wants to or not.
Heading home from work one night, Bob finds an abused pit bull puppy that’s been tossed in a trash can. He reluctantly provides a home to the dog and gets to know Nadia (Noomi Rapace), a neighborhood waitress whose dangerous former boyfriend is the dog’s true owner. Bob doesn’t want any trouble, but it may have found him anyway.
The Drop skillfully portrays the world of organized crime where the prize goes to the aggressor and each neighborhood has its own pecking order. If you hesitate, you can lose your status and the respect that goes with it. Tempers flare, and lives are forfeited over minor disputes and misunderstandings. The streets are populated by mythic figures and has-beens. Some people deserve their dangerous reputations and others are posers, and the cost of mistaking the two could be very high. Bob struggles to live a simple life, and Marv misses the days when he mattered.
Tom Hardy gives a standout performance, but that statement is becoming a bit redundant these days. Gandolfini offers a variation on the character that made him famous — think a washed-up Tony Soprano after someone from the New York family takes over his territory. The “I coulda been a contender” world view of his character seems a little been there, done that, but Gandolfini makes it look so real that it’s hard to complain.
The sense of the familiar and the questionable casting of Rapace are the only significant flaws to the film. Her accent is a muddled mash-up of Brooklyn by way of Sweden, and she never seems confident in her performance. Hardy effortlessly runs circles around her, and their relationship never fully comes to life as a result. Why not explain that she’s recently moved to New York from Europe? Or why not find another actress who seems more New Yawk than the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?
These minor quibbles aside, The Drop will leave you eager for Tom Hardy’s next performance, sad that you’ve seen James Gandolfini’s big-screen swan song and glad these two actors met at least once on film.
The Movie Isle
Scott Phillips holds a degree in print journalism from the University of Georgia and is currently a member of the Georgia Film Critics Association (GAFCA). In addition to his role as a correspondent for Timed Edition, Scott serves as the Executive Editor and Senior Writer for themovieisle.com. From 2013 through 2017, he reviewed films for filmdispenser.com. Along with his duties as a critic, Scott serves as the Content Programmer for the Way Down Film Festival held in Columbus, Georgia every fall.