Review: The Drop (2014)

The Drop - 2014 - 1

Director: Michaël R. Roskam
Screenwriter: Dennis Lehane
Cast: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini, Matthias Schoenaerts, John Ortiz, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Michael Aronov & Ann Dowd
Runtime: 106 min // Certificate: 15

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lCiDIcqMe0]

Manly men do lots of gruff, manly things in Michaël R. Roskam’s adaptation of “Animal Rescue”, a short story by Dennis Lehane, whose adaptation of his own work forms the backbone of The Drop.

Set in Brooklyn, The Drop is very much your typical modern gangster flick with classic tendencies, what with its hushed conversations, dodgy Chechens and stony-hearted men with two major weaknesses; women and animals (in terms of the almost innate sexism of films like this, please make of that what you will…) It tells the story of a bartender, Bob (Hardy; Locke), and his older cousin, Marv (Gandolfini; In the Loop), as they attempt to recover money that was stolen from their rundown bar during a robbery. A few twists in the tale and bullets in the face later, shit hits the fan as Cousin Marv’s bar is selected by the mobster who owns it to be a “drop” bar (a bar where laundered money is traded and stored) on the night of the Super Bowl.

There’s not a lot to say about The Drop for the very simple reason that you’ve seen it a million times before, but to its credit it does what it does very well. LeHane’s screenplay is tight, if not a little predictable, and the performances from Tom Hardy and the late James Gandolfini often serve to rescue what could easily have been a damp, po-faced squib from collapsing under the weight of its own self-serious clichés, but there’s little more to it than that. The film works best when Hardy and Gandolfini share the screen as the tension between them, particularly in the latter part of the film when it’s unclear who – if anyone – we can trust, is palpable, though Noomi Rapace (Prometheus) puts in a solid turn as Hardy’s love interest and the film’s potential femme fatale, even though the material she’s given is distinctly lacklustre in comparison to that of Hardy and Gandolfini.

If you like LeHane’s stories (see, for example, “Mystic River” and “Shutter Island”), then you’ll no doubt like The Drop too. It doesn’t add anything new to a genre that is already so bedevilled by familiarity that it’s difficult to take seriously anymore, but the story is an interesting one, and Roskam (best known for directing Bullhead) does a competent job of capturing the cold isolation of life in the grimy streets of Brooklyn. It’s not a film I’ll ever return to, but for what it was and for what I expected of it, it was perfectly passable and well worth my time. Just don’t go in expecting the next Goodfellas and you’ll probably enjoy it.

★★★

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