The Drop

Year: 2014
Production Co: Chernin Entertainment
Director: Michaël R. Roskam
Writer: Dennis Lehane
Cast: Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini, Noomi Rapace, Matthias Schoenaerts, James Frecheville, Ann Dowd

Because The Drop stars an actor as good as Tom Hardy, features the brilliant James Gandolfini in his last role and is written by east coast crime maestro Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, Shutter Island), it gives you the illusion of being much weightier with themes and having a sheen of high quality. In fact it's just a pretty mundane – possibly even empty – thriller.

The drop of the title refers to deliveries of money from criminal activities, sent between creditors and bagmen by mobsters through any number of seedy bars in the tough Brooklyn neighbourhood where Bob (Hardy) and Marv (Gandolfini) own and run their own place.

The movie follows two stories that brush up against each other more than they intertwine. In one, Bob finds a pup that's ben mistreated and injured and dumped in a rubbish bin outside the house of a local girl, Nadia (Noomi Rapace). They nurse it back to health, and Bob has to virtually plead Nadia to keep it while he organises somewhere for it to live, busy as he is with his bar.

She reluctantly agrees, and it's while Bob visits to bring provisions for the dog and eventually adopt it himself the two strike up a friendship and tentative romance.

The other story deals with Marv being backed into a corner by the nasty European hoods who run the neighbourhood and have selected his bar as the conduit for all the filthy local money.

When two tweaking locals who know about the drop system rob the bar early in the film, the hoods hold Marv and Bob responsible for the loss. Eventually one of scumbags connected with the robbery turns out to be Nadia's former no hoper boyfriend.

Part of the problem is that you're assuming the whole way through that Bob and Marv are hard bitten local toughs who won't hesitate to take the law into their own hands to protect the various things they love or come to love (the bar, the dog and the girl). That's especially the case after Bob's constant referrals (in voice-over and in character) to past sins, making you think he's a former enforcer or killer himself and can thus handle himself in a little bit of neighbourhood extortion.

Instead, they just seem like a pair of everyday guys scared by the scumbags they're surrounded by on every side. Maybe the hulking Hardy or the mafiosi-flavoured Gandolfini weren't the best choice for the roles of two essentially cowed men who don't want any trouble.

It's well shot in the constantly rain-slicked, arc sodium-lit way a lot of New York crime thrillers are, and the acting by Hardy and Gandolfini is up to their usual very high standards. It just all felt like a bit of an artifice without much behind it.

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