Review by Laurie Coker
Tom Hardy’s face, except perhaps as Bane in the last Batman, is becoming quite familiar these days, and in each film, whether comedy, romance or drama, he shows his natural talent as an actor. In The Drop, a new film by director Michael Roskam (Bullhead), Hardy melds into a multi-faceted, brooding man, with a dark past and an even darker present, a man who simply wants to be left alone. He, Roskham and an exceptional ensemble cast make The Drop suspenseful and entertaining in spite of its predictability.
Bob (Hardy) is a loner bartender in a neighborhood pub, once owned by his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini), but now run by Chechens, who use local bars for money “drops.” When Marv’s bar is robbed, the Chechens become suspicious. On one side of Bob’s life, he finds a puppy, meets a pretty girl (Noomi Rapace) and lives a simple existence in the home of his deceased parents. On the other side, he finds himself wrapped unwillingly in a life of unsavory people and events.
Hardy plays Bob flawlessly, with a calm, almost savant demeanor and a thick accent. He’s subtly mysterious, eerily commanding and still likably teddy bear-ish. I found Bob mesmerizing and sexy. And I couldn’t help but notice that he stands a good six inches shorter than most of the actors who he stood face to face with, and yet his character feels seven feet tall. Gandolfini does in The Drop what we will remember him for: a big goombah, quietly compelling, smoking and drinking, giving orders and conniving. It’s an excellent send-off to an exceptional actor.
The Drop is a brooding film, not unlike Mystic River – the deep, depressing realities of one small, sullied piece of society. It is a gritty crime drama that manages to incorporate a puppy. Still, there are few surprises in the story, but its characters (penned by Dennis Lehane) are rich, well-drawn and perfectly acted. Raskam’s direction is compelling and clear and he captures the essence of the darker side of Brooklyn. Coupling this with a gripping soundtrack, I was on the edge of my seat engrossed and the slow pacing never once bothered me.
The Drop garners an R-rating, deservedly, but even the darkness has snippets of softness and of humor — making the characters all the more real. It’s filled with commanding characters and pulls us in to their dismal world. We care, especially about Bob and the dog he finds in a trashcan – the one bright light in his dreary daily existence. I am placing an B+ in my grade book.