Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Drop

Year: 2014
Director: Michael R. Roskam
Cast: Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini, Noomi Rapace, Matthias Schoenaerts

Plot: Bob Saginowski, a bartender at a drop bar i.e. a bar where criminals drop off their money for laundering, finds himself in a bad situation when the bar is robbed and the owner, a Chechen gangster, wants it back. He also faces aggravation from another thug over a dog he saved from a garbage bin.

Review: If you're expecting a crime thriller walking into The Drop, you may be a tad disappointed, like I was. Instead, it's more of a character study on one Bob Saginowski.

Bob is a bartender at a place run by his cousin Marv, which happens to be a drop bar, where criminals drop off their money for laundering. One night, the bar gets robbed, which angers the Chechen mobster who owns the place. Marv himself isn't too fond of the boss, since the place used to be his. The other subplot involves Bob's relationship with Nadia, a waitress whom he meets after rescuing a dog outside her house. Her former boyfriend Eric is a thug, who threatens Bob over the dog which he claims is his.

The marketing for this film might have you think that this is a slow burn crime thriller, but it's not. The focus is mostly on Bob, who seems like a regular guy, nice with a simpleton's personality. Director Michael R. Roskam does a good job with cinematography and sets, showing the lower side of Brooklyn during winter, through their dark alleys and cold streets. It's the kind of film small time criminals and the blue collar society can easily relate to.

Tom Hardy is the star here, playing Bob as a quiet, unassuming man that runs Cousin Marv's bar. With Hardy, you'll always notice the quiet intensity painted on his face, and he uses it well here. On the surface, Bob seems harmless, and it's clear Hardy wants you to believe that, at least until near the end. The late James Gandolfini puts in a solid final performance as Marv, the guy who still believes he's the man everyone fears, but obviously isn't anymore. Noomi Rapace plays off of Hardy quite well as Nadia, but doesn't quite convince me in being a waitress from Brooklyn. Matthias Schoenarts is impressive as Eric, being the kind of guy you would be afraid of running into on the street.

The fact that this is a character study makes The Drop a little taxing to sit through. Maybe Dennis Lehane's original story is genuinely tense on paper, but not so here. Those expecting something to happen every now and then throughout the film may find this dull. As good as it was seeing Hardy and Gandolfini on screen, I wanted more tension. It only reaches its peak in the final 15 minutes, but in retrospect I understand the long wait. Overall the film almost feels like a TV movie, and it deserves better.

The Drop may have missed its mark a little for me, but thanks to Hardy and Gandolfini, the film is worth checking out once. (7/10) 

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