On the Silver Screen – The Drop
The Drop is a mob thriller where Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) and his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini) work in a bar where money drops are used to discretely give cash to local gangsters. They find themselves at the center of a robbery investigation that stands to uncover some truths about the neighbourhood that people want to keep hidden.
In many ways the mob story takes something of a back seat in favour of a character study of Bob. It’s a good decision as these scenes are by far the most interesting in the film. It’s interesting to note that the screenplay is adapted by Dennis Lehane from a short story he wrote called Animal Rescue which would have been a far more appropriate title for this film. Much of the running time is devoted to Bob rescuing a puppy that has been abused and bonding with the animal. Rescuing this puppy awakens a compassionate streak in Bob that he didn’t know he had up until that point and the scenes where he tries his best to do right by his new pet are genuinely touching and weirdly humourous.
This film is entirely belonging to Tom Hardy who is scarcely off screen throughout. The character he plays is nicely layered and interesting to watch. At the beginning of the film it almost seems like he’s a little dumb but the more screen time he has, the more nuance he’s afforded and we get a good look at what sort of a guy he is as the film progresses.
Noomi Rapace plays Nadia, his sort of love interest. She is similar to the dog in that she’s another abused soul for him to feel protective of. Rapace is pretty good in this role for the most part but the character feels a bit superflous and takes up time that could have been spent further exploring Bob’s bond with the dog as it’s the true heart of the story here.
Matthias Schoenaerts fills the role of the main antagonistic force in this film. He comes along and reveals himself as the dog’s rightful owner then never goes away. There’s a definite sense that he’s attempting to take advantage of Bob’s newly discovered vulnerability. Any time he’s on screen he seems like a formidable threat who is unstable enough to be capable of anything. A lack of focus on this character and this aspect of the story means that this doesn’t reach the dramatic heights it should have.
James Gandolfini does a great job in his final performance. He plays a man who has an awareness of the fact that his position in life will never improve. Many references are made to him once owning the bar his name is attached to suggesting that he has lost a lot in his life and has just run on some pretty bad luck over the years. Ultimately he ends up getting in over his head and comes across as something of a loser who has no real bearing on his circumstances no matter how hard he tries. As a final performance it’s a great one with plenty of pathos. It’s a good reminder of the loss suffered to the film industry now that he’s gone.
I found the non dog parts of the story to be pretty lacking for the most part. The general pacing of this part of the story is terrible. There’s nothing wrong with a slow burn but it all went too slowly for me. The last 20 minutes or so go a long way towards making up for this but it’s a case of too little too late by the time it gets there.
An uneven movie that manages to be both an interesting character study and a poorly paced mob thriller. Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini give fantastic performances that create fascinating characters.
The mob story that the title suggests will have prominence moves too slowly and pales in comparison to Tom Hardy’s Bob getting used to caring for a pet dog. This part of the story is the most interesting part and is genuinely very well done. If this had been the whole film I actually would have really enjoyed it but running this alongside the mob plot doesn’t quite work.
Matthias Schoenaerts plays a solid villain who seems like a formidable antagonist throughout the film but isn’t really given enough focus to become truly memorable.
Noomi Rapace’s Nadia feels somewhat extraneous to the story since she plays something of a love interest to Bob but this role is more than fulfilled by the dog so the story could have lost her and not really be missing anything.