Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini make for the prefect onscreen duo.
Now if there’s one thing Tom Hardy is brilliant at, it’s acting. So when you put Hardy together with mafia boss, Gandolfini, one can only expect sheer brilliance and that’s exactly what we got from director Michaël R. Roskam’s “The Drop”. The movie is set in Brooklyn − a big place where a lot of bad things happen – bad things that generate a lot of cash.
As Hardy says in a voice-over at the beginning of “The Drop”, “All that money has to go somewhere.”
The idea of the movie, which crime novelist Dennis Lehane adapted from his short story “Animal Rescue”, is that there are “drop bars” − bars where numerous illegal enterprises bring in large sums of cash to each week for the mob to collect. The are 2 things about “drop bars” that one needs to understand − it operates mostly on cash where dishonest individuals have been known to meet and it constantly shifts, making it difficult for anyone who’s thinking of getting their hands on all that cash.
Unlike most gangster films where the focus lays at the top of the criminal food chain – the bosses, dons, and godfathers, “The Drop” focuses on the bottom-feeders, taking aim at blue-collar workers for whom even $5,000 is a lot of money. The characters in this film are bartenders and waitresses, men whose best days are either behind them or destined never to come.
Tom Hardy is arguably one of the best actors of today’s time. Such a brilliant actor, he is a chameleon who can play any kind of role and whose face can go from expressive to impassive. In “The Drop” Hardy plays a hard-working, somewhat dimwitted bartender named Bob Saginowski whose loyalty and devotion to his cousin Marv (played by the late James Gandolfini) has placed him in a dead-end job. Marv, who was once an up-and-coming figure in the Brooklyn mob world, has fallen on hard times. His bar, which he no longer owns, is now owned by Chechen gangsters and used by them as a “drop location”. When the bar is robbed on a drop night, the Chechen gangsters become aggressive and belligerent about getting their stolen $5,000 back. They also hinted that if Marv can’t find the people responsible for it, the repayment of cash will fall on him.
Meanwhile, Bob has adopted an injured pitbull puppy. With the help of Nadia (played by Noomi Rapace), the woman in whose trash can the puppy was dumped, Bob learns to care for the pup and things seem to be going great until its mentally unstable owner, Eric Deeds (played by Matthias Schoenaerts) starts to stalk him. Deeds, known to be the lunatic who is rumoured to be responsible for the murder of Richie Wheeler, threatens both Bob and Nadia, claiming the puppy as his dog − with proof of ownership − and promising to recover it, then torture and kill it unless Bob pays him $10,000.
At the same time, another complication involving Marv’s connection to the stolen cash opens up more difficulties for Bob. Thanks to the Chechen mobs, the money turns up at Cousin Marv’s in a bag, along with one of the robber’s severed arm, and another murder reveals further dimensions to both the character and the history behind Marv’s own character. Everything comes to a clear when the film completes a full circle, culminating in a scene in the bar on Super Bowl Sunday that somehow managed to come off as both surprising and inevitable.
In that climax, the script unites all its threads of character and motivation by bringing together Bob, Nadia, Deeds an Marv, and even explaining the 10-year-old murder mentioned in the opening sequence. The violence of the ending, justifies itself without in any way providing an easy way out or a pat version of closure.
Coming a long way from Tony Soprano, James Gandolfini plays a bitter, disappointed crook, remembering his glory days in his final role before his tragic and sudden death.
Together with Hardy, the duo makes “The Drop” a completely engaging, rivetingly genuine gangster movie.
“The Drop” opens in cinemas on November 13th (Thursday).
Be sure to check out the trailer below.