THE DROP (2014)

Genre: Crime/Drama
Director: Michaël Roskam
Cast: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini, Matthias Schoenaerts, John Ortiz, Ann Dowd, James Frecheville
RunTime: 1 hr 47 mins
Rating: NC-16 (Coarse language and some violence)
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 16 October 2014

Synopsis: THE DROP is a new crime drama from Michaël R. Roskam, the Academy Award nominated director of BULLHEAD. Based on a screenplay from Dennis Lehane (MYSTIC RIVER, GONE BABY GONE), THE DROP follows lonely bartender Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) through a covert scheme of funneling cash to local gangsters – “money drops” – in the underworld of Brooklyn bars. Under the heavy hand of his employer and cousin Marv (James Gandolfini), Bob finds himself at the center of a robbery gone awry and entwined in an investigation that digs deep into the neighborhood’s past where friends, families, and foes all work together to make a living – no matter the cost.

Movie Review:

Nobody messes with Tony Soprano. Yup, anyone who dares to upstage the American mafia crime boss from the critically acclaimed TV series The Sopranos will probably not live long to know the regret. So powerful is the late James Gandolfini’s portrayal of this fictional character that you want him to be Tony Soprano after the series wrapped in 2007. From the earlier The Mexican (2001) to the recent Killing Them Softly (2012), you expect to see a Tony Soprano in Gandolfini’s performance. In fact, even when he’s playing a mayor in The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009) or a CIAdirector in Zero Dark Thirty (2012), you want to see a badass side of him emerge.

And that is why for Gandolfini’s final appearance in a feature film (go check out his romantic side in 2013’s Enough Said, a rare heartfelt romance flick co starring Julia Louis Dreyfus), we were expecting nothing less, especially when he plays a tough ex owner of a shady bar.

Gandolfini plays Marv, who runs a bar in Brooklynwith Bob (Tom Hardy). The bar used to belong to Marv, and it still carries his name, but it is manipulated by Chechen mobsters. This is a “drop bar” (hence the film title), which means it’s one of the places where the mob collects all of its booking money. This is a story of the two men - when Bob and Marv get wind that they might be the target for robberies, they try to find a way to stay safe and keep the bar operational. 

We are glad to report that Gandolfini delivers a first-rate performance in a subtlety layered character you don’t fully know until the final moments. His passing was a great tragedy for movie fans everywhere, but his final role as Marv is a great way to remember him by.

While we know Gandolfini would be first rate, it was Hardy’s impressive turn as the seemingly introverted Bob that blew us away. The 37 year old English actor is quietly carving out an impressive career for himself. Hardy has the looks of a leading man, but the soul of a character actor who takes smaller, more interesting parts just because they're of interest to him. Hardy can bounce from Bane in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) to smaller films like Locke (2013), and he feels equally at home in both of them. In his latest role, Hardy is perfect by softly playing a man who just wants to make a living tending a bar. However, when pushed, he has to take extraordinary measures to protect himself. That’s when he shines as an actor.

Belgian director Michaël R. Roskam (whose previous film was the much acclaimed Bullhead) works with a screenplay based on Dennis Lehane’s short story “Animal Rescue” (there’s an abandoned dog in the plot), and brings out the grittiness of a world with gangsters and street crime in a Brooklyn setting. The 107 minute movie has a most unexpected yet satisfying third act. Characters, schemes and back stories converge with a bang. While it is a twisty thriller, it’s also a good piece of character study. You find out new things about characters (supporting actors Noomi Rapace, Matthias Schoenaerts and John Ortiz turn in commendable performances as well), and the movie maintains a suspenseful grip on you while moving you in a lingering way. 

Movie Rating:

(It may have been sold as a crime thriller, but this must watch movie is actually a slow burning drama and character study boasting superb performances)


Review by John Li

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