Blu-ray Review: THE DROP (2014)
Tom Hardy is one of my favorite actors working right now.
Every time I see him in a movie, he’s playing a completely different kind of role. Whether he’s the villainous Bane in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012) or the heroic Max in MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (2015) he’s making an impression. In THE DROP (2014) which I recently watched on Blu-ray, he plays a soft-spoken ex-con bartender named Bob who works at a bar where there is more mob activity than alcohol served. Bob is a fascinating character who plays his cards close to his vest. You know there’s something more to this guy, but you just can’t figure out what it is.
In THE DROP Hardy is flanked by two equally talented actors, Noomi Rapace and the late James Gandolfini.
I saw THE DROP on Blu-ray the same week that I saw BLACK MASS (2015) at the theater, the lurid Whitey Bulger bio pic starring Johnny Depp as the infamous Boston mobster. I found THE DROP to be the more compelling of the two, equaling the intensity of BLACK MASS but having a better story and more interesting and captivating characters.
In THE DROP, ex-con Bob (Tom Hardy) tends bar at Cousin Marv’s, a bar owned by Cousin Marv (James Gandolfini) himself. It’s a drop bar, meaning that the mob deposits money there on a regular basis. One night, the bar is robbed, an act that the Chechen mafia who rule that neighborhood does not take kindly to, and they immediately suspect Bob and Marv of being in on the robbery. While Marv reacts nervously, Bob seems to take it all in stride and goes about his business in a quiet, unobtrusive way.
When he discovers a badly beaten pit bull puppy left for dead in a garbage can, he’s encouraged to take the dog home by his neighbor Nadia (Noomi Rapace). He doesn’t want to do this because he says he doesn’t know how to care for a dog, but Nadia pretty much tells him the dog will die without his help, and she in turn helps him take care of it, and soon they become good friends, until her former boyfriend Eric (Matthias Schoenaerts) shows up, claiming the dog is his and that he wants it back. Bob tells him no, even though Eric has the reputation of being a loose cannon and evidently killed a man. None of this seems to faze Bob all that much.
When Marv’s bar is chosen as the main drop bar on the night of the Super Bowl, meaning that a huge amount of mob money will be deposited there, the story comes to a head as Bob finds himself in the middle of yet another plan to rob the bar, the vengeful Chechen mafia, and the psychotic boyfriend who seems ready to kill Bob at the drop of a hat.
THE DROP works as well as it does because of the superb acting performances in the movie. Tom Hardy knocks the ball out of the park with his performance as Bob, a man who finds himself in the tensest predicament yet doesn’t seem to break a sweat. He’s a fascinating character who seems to be harboring some sort of secret, a key which defines his personality.
Noomi Rapace as Bob’s love interest Nadia has played this kind of role before and she can pretty much sleepwalk through it, but that doesn’t mean she’s not excellent. She is. Her part here reminded me a lot of her role in another thriller DEAD MAN DOWN (2013) but that didn’t stop me from liking her performance.
The late James Ganolfini is also exceptional here as Cousin Marv. When the movie opens, he seems to be the wise and weathered bar owner, whereas Bob seems more naïve, but as the story goes on, we learn that this is not quite the case. Marv has a troubled life, and he makes poor decisions as a result.
The screenplay by Denis Lehane is flat out excellent. It’s a complicated story that is never too confusing. It creates captivating characters who you want to learn more about. It’s based on his short story “Animal Rescue.” Lehane also wrote the novels Mystic River (2003), Gone Baby Gone (2007) and Shutter Island(2010). And even though this movie was based on his short story, it plays like a novel. Its story is rich and deeply textured.
Director Michael R. Roskam has made a very suspenseful thriller that is as dark as it is satisfying.
If you like your crime stories populated with multi-dimensional characters who face crucial decisions throughout, in the face of threatening mob violence all around them, you’ll love THE DROP, a compelling movie that isn’t afraid to take its time with its characterizations. It allows its audience time to get to know its characters without sacrificing intensity or excitement.
It’s also a showcase for Tom Hardy who continues to impress in movie after movie.
I loved THE DROP.
It’s crime drama at its best.