Wednesday, September 10, 2014

“The Drop”– Movie Review



This week, I caught a New York Times Film Club screening of the new crime drama, “The Drop”, starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and James Gandolfini.


When a bartender finds himself caught in the middle of a scheme to steal money from the gangsters who own the bar where he works, will both his job and his life remain intact?


Despite the makeover that hipsters have given Brooklyn over the past number of years, there remains a sinister underworld that’s still largely unseen by most people – except for Bob (Hardy), a bartender at a pub run by his older cousin Marv (Gandolfini). Bob has spent his entire life living in this part of the borough and has pretty much seen it all, somehow managing to keep himself out of trouble. In recent years, Marv’s bar came to be owned by Chechen gangsters, who periodically use the business as a delivery point for money owed to them – in the vernacular of their world, when Marv’s bar is the delivery location, it is then known as The Drop.

Late one night after a drop at Marv’s place, the bar is held up by a couple of armed men wearing masks shortly before closing time; when the police are called, Bob gives the Detective in charge plenty of details, but Marv remains mysteriously silent. The next day when the Chechen mobster arrives for his pickup, he’s informed of the robbery; infuriated, he demands Marv come up with the money any way he can. Later, unknown to Bob, Marv meets with Eric Deeds (Matthias Schoenaerts), one of the men who stuck up the bar – apparently, the robbery was Marv’s idea and he hired Deeds to do the job.

Subsequently, a possessive Deeds begins to harass Bob, whom he discovers now owns Deeds’ former dog and has been hanging around Nadia (Rapace), Deeds’ ex-girlfriend. Marv learns that another drop will be made at his bar on one of the busiest and most lucrative nights of the year – Super Bowl Sunday; he then instructs Deeds to pull another job there that night before closing. Meanwhile, Deeds coerces Bob to give him $10,000 for the dog so he’ll leave Bob alone; Bob agrees and Deeds arranges to come by Marv’s to pick up the money on the night of the big game – the same night he’s supposed to hold-up the place again. But when Deeds surprises Bob by showing up with Nadia, will Bob hand over the money or will Deeds have to kill him?


If you’re in the mood for a good crime drama, “The Drop” is likely to satisfy your needs. However, do note that I said “good”, not “great”. On balance, while I enjoyed “The Drop” substantially, it is far from perfect. Reason alone to make “The Drop” worth seeing is James Gandolfini; even though he’s not the star of the movie, he’s still quite good, especially if you were a fan of his work on HBO’s “The Sopranos”. In “The Drop”, Gandolfini’s Marv is basically Tony Soprano with a goatee – except for the fact that Marv isn’t quite as violent as Tony was. It is bittersweet watching Gandolfini since you can’t escape the realization that we’ll never see him in a new role again.

Visually, director Michaël R. Roskam does an excellent job of setting a proper mood for this type of story – dark and brooding, he finds clever angles for shots and makes judicious use of his soundtrack to set the mood musically.  The performances are quite good, despite occasional problems with the script by Dennis Lehane, who based the screenplay on his own short story, “Animal Rescue”.  The story has scenes that take you out of the moment (e.g., no one I know in Brooklyn will let a complete stranger into their house.   Also, in this era of cell phone ubiquity, who exchanges telephone numbers by scribbling them on a scrap of paper?). 

The details of some of the key relationships in the story are also a bit muddled and at times, it can be a little difficult keeping track of who was whom and what their connection was to other characters; also, there’s a character whose existence is a major plot point, but since he’s long ago passed away, he never appears onscreen.  One positive note about the script, though, is its ending.  What would any Dennis Lehane story be without a nice twist ending?  “The Drop” most certainly has one.  It’s worth putting up with some other nonsense to wait for the final confrontation between Bob and Deeds, not to mention the how the detective wraps up the case. 


The Drop (2014) on IMDb


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