The Drop

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Release: Friday, September 12, 2014 (limited)

[Theater]

Fairly unsurprisingly, The Drop is a compelling modern entry into the gangster/crime genre.

Tom Hardy. James Gandolfini. There’s something foregone-conclusion-y about pairing those names together and sticking them in a mobster flick. It’s likely to be damn good. Of course you’d be forgiven for not being taken with the relatively bland title. But for dismissing lonely old Bob Saginowski (Hardy) who carries around a pit bull pup for most of the movie? Totally inexcusable.

That’s a side of Bane you won’t see too often. Even less from Charles Bronson. And doubtful there were many times in Tommy Conlon’s life where he felt so sensitive.

As striking a visual as Hardy nursing an abused and abandoned puppy can be there’s something more poignant in the reincarnation of Tony Soprano as “Cousin Marv.” The duo are indeed cousins who run a dive bar in Brooklyn, with the latter having proudly owned the operations for decades now and the former merely tending bar. If only life were actually that simple, though. Targeted as a ‘drop’ location by a dangerous Chechen criminal syndicate, this particularly dingy cave suddenly magnetizes all sorts of dirty money flowing in from various unsavory individuals.

When two dim-witted thugs hold the bar up one evening, Saginowski and his cousin find themselves in hot water with Chovka (Michael Aronov), a mob leader not even Tony Soprano would want to cross on a good day. The pair are left scrounging for the missing $5,000 before they too find themselves disappearing in a windowless conversion van parked in the shadows of some nondescript alleyway.

Hardy — if you can believe it — puts on a stellar performance as a sheltered, fumbling everyman whose social ineptitude symbolizes that part of the iceberg we can see peeking above the surface. Sooner or later we’ll get to know how deep it goes into the water. Before we do, there are several layers to Cousin Marv we need to peel away before coming into the frightening realization of how truly shady this whole operation is. This place is rotten from the inside out, and the last thing we are ultimately concerned with are the drops themselves.

The Drop blends sharp social commentary with an indomitable devotion to creating atmospheric tension. An unnerving turn from Matthias Shoenaerts as Eric Deeds, a renegade criminal with a keen interest in the dog Bob discovered in a neighbor, the broken but beautiful Nadia (Noomi Rapace)’s trash can one night on his way home from the bar, adds to that greatly. Seemingly channelling his inner Joker in his unrepentant disregard for logic or reason, Shoenaerts casts a shadow that puts the dreaded Chechen gang in perspective. Clearly there are degrees of evil here that we ought to be aware of. Therein lies the genius in having the omniscient perspective: we eventually learn no one is clean but as the story develops our willingness to take the lesser of two evils is directly proportional to how much we’re shocked by the developments.

Rapace isn’t the focus of attention here but her fragile state’s still worthy of mention as she offers up a vulnerability not found in the male characters. And her performance proves yet again how kaleidoscopic the Swedish actress’ image truly is. For Bob Saginowski Nadia represents a chance to outgrow his circumstances and become something more, all while still wrestling with a dark past of her own.

Perhaps owed to the effectiveness of the transfer of book to film at the hands of writer Dennis Lehane (responsible for both versions), you will likely not come across a more atmospheric and capably-acted crime drama this fall.

Or, maybe you will.

But it won’t have James Gandolfini in it, who in this case doesn’t even need to raise his voice to remind us of the ease with which he could command the screen. Additional credit must be given to the strong direction of Michaël R. Roskam, who’s only had one previous film released (and to similar critical success, as a matter of fact), for never allowing the sobering reality of Gandolfini’s absence hang too heavy over the proceedings. Marv is chameleonic, blending seamlessly with the decay of his surrounds. As the big man once again does with his favorite material.

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4-0Recommendation: Reiterating, the appeal is pretty clear here. The box office draw comes twofold in a dreamlike pairing of Hardy and Gandolfini in a thoroughly well-written and well-crafted reflection of a much harder life in America. Despite there being a substantial amount of commentary on the subject already, The Drop offers a clear-eyed view of some very, very, very gray areas indeed. Aside from a few limited moments of bloodshed, the lack of substantial gore might be one immediate way you can distinguish this effective thriller. It relies on studying and assessing character motives and relationships, and if that’s your sort of thing, you should be buying yourself a ticket right now rather than reading this blog. (But seriously, thank you for reading this blog.)

Rated: R

Running Time: 106 mins.

Quoted: “Are you doing something desperate? Something we can’t clean up this time?”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com

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37 thoughts on “The Drop

  1. Pingback: The 2014 DigiBread Awards | digitalshortbread

    • Funny u mentioned that Chris, Adam right below was lamenting how The Drop is getting a later release, perhaps a mid-November release? I think this cast does an absolutely stellar job with a thoroughly well-conceived script and then the brooding atmosphere seals the deal for me. This is a great one. Thanks so much for the visit man. Hope you’re doing well.

      • Release dates can be a right pain! Just as long as it doesn’t get a limited release I’ll be happy. My local cinema tends to favour the big blockbusters though unfortunately.
        I am indeed doing well mate, just tricky finding time to blog which is a shame but I’ll keep popping by when I can!

        • I understand that completely. Recently my time blogging is going to be cut into rather severely as I’m looking for a new place to live and a new way to pay for it! Haha. We all know that joy. . .

          Well, keep your eyes peeled man. I have a feeling this one ought to get a decent reception in the U.K. This being Gandolfini’s final big screen performance is too big a draw, I would think, for it to be overlooked. 🙂

  2. Awesome review Tom. I was going to comment on how this one seems to have flown under the radar over here in the UK, but it turns out the film ain’t hitting cinemas until mid-November! Definitely one I’ll be looking out for.

    Adam.

    • Shit man, my apologies for overlooking your comment bud.

      Oh, phew. . so glad you’ll be getting this on overseas. It deserves a much wider release but then there ya go, we’re living in the Age of Transformers. 😉

  3. I must confess, the trailer didn’t look too promising and then David Edelstein’s review in New York Magazine kind of sealed the deal. But I do trust your recommendations (wow- a near perfect score too!) so perhaps I will give this a go.

    • It’s mostly recommendable on the virtue of seeing Gandolfini one last time, and man does he deliver. Hardy is hovering at career-best levels as well man. It’s an all-around solid installment, but one that you’ve seen conjured up elsewhere. 🙂

  4. I was shocked that this came into theaters this week. Last week, I missed the showing at TIFF and found myself disappointed until I noticed that it would be playing in theaters just a single week afterwards. I’ve heard some mixed reactions so far, but I’m glad to see that your review is on the positive side of the fence. I’m anxiously awaiting the potential of James and Tom (not you, sorry dude) mixing it up on the big screen!

    • 😦 And here I thought I was the star of the f**king show. lol.

      Yeah man, I can’t wait to read your write-up on it. It’s tense and just. . .supremely well-acted, as only most people with a slightly functional brain could expect with a cast like this! 😀 As far as the content is concerned, yeah you may have seen this stuff all before but the way it is handled and dressed in this atmosphere of a run-down corner of Brooklyn, wow. It’s just. Great. I thought so at least.

      It is a little frustrating how quiet a release it is however, I’ve been singing its praises for awhile yet can’t really get many people inspired to pay a visit to their local indie theater.

    • Cheers dude, yeah everything about it worked from top-to-bottom. And Noomi Rapace, I can’t believe how much different she keeps looking from role-to-role. Love it.

  5. I would definitely like to see this at some point! Sounds like you really enjoyed it. Watching the previews for it makes me sad about James Gandolfini. Really well-written review, Tom. I enjoyed reading your review!

    • I loved it Kristin. 😀

      Thanks so much for reading my stuff, I find it helps if you really dig something, to write a decent review afterwards. At least, that’s my philosophy. The more you’re into something, the more it shows. 🙂 I hope you get a chance to check this out at some point, it is really sad and bittersweet seeing Gandolfini for the last time, but he’s excellent. So is Tom Hardy.

    • I can’t wait until you do see it Mark, I think you’re going to find a similar level of satisfaction in what these three amazing performers are able to do alongside a director who knows exactly how to tell a suspenseful story. Man I loved this film. It really must be the start of the Oscar season, eh? 😀

    • Awesome man, thanks a lot for the support.

      The Drop is great. Hardy and Gandolfini together might be my favorite pairing of the year.

  6. Great review man. I hadn’t really been following this one until I found out Dennis Lehane was involved. He is one of my favourite authors, so pretty psyched for it now.

    • Ah, very cool man. That’s a great impetus for seeing The Drop then. it’s excellently written, especially these hardened New Yorkers. I quite enjoyed this, as I pretty much predicted I would. But it’s always nice to be proven right. Haha

    • Hey dude, yeah The Drop is excellent! Can’t wait for you to see it. 🙂

      I did get the email, still thinking about something to suggest. It’s funny; the other Rob, the guy who just contributed to my Bite Sized Review column, is doing something similar, but he has created a list of movies that he wants us to choose from for him to review at some point. You, however, provided a list of things you’ve already seen and are wanting to know about stuff that’s not on that list, if I”m correct?

      I’ll be sure to send some suggestions soon. As well as those Genre Grandeur pieces. 🙂

      • That’s actually quite funny and cool at the same time.

        I need to have your recommendation by tonight tho, because I wanna add it to the list before I finish all of my recommendations.

        Tnx (sorry to be a pain)

        • 😀 No worries at all, sorry I hadn’t realized the time was now. So, I’ve responded in the email. I hope that is a title you haven’t come across (or at least in a long enough time for you to have forgotten about it!) If not, I’ll work on something else.

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