Most of the attention given to the new Brooklyn gangster film called The Drop has been given to the fact that this was the last performance by the late and great James Gandolfini. But from the jump I must state that this film belongs to the British actor Tom Hardy. Tom has shelved his UK accents and has submerged into the role of Bob Saginowsky, a neighborhood bartender in Brooklyn.
He’s quiet, slow of speech, and he seems to be not so quick on the uptake. He’s a neighborhood guy, working in a neighborhood bar. He goes to church regularly, and knows to keep his head down, even in church as he doesn’t take communion. There’s no glitz in this film at all, and no one, other than the Russian mob guys, including the lead, Tom Hardy, shows any kind of fancy clothes, fancy cars, bling, or high-tech weapons.
This is blue-collar Brooklyn. The mob guys are not Irish or Italians, they’re Chechens. But don’t let that fool you. They are as scary as any film villains you’ve ever seen.
The screen play was written by Dennis Lehane, who adapted his own short story Animal Rescue, into this film. The milieu has changed from Boston to Brooklyn. For those of you who may not know, and I was one of them, a description of what a drop bar is given by Hardy as Saginowsky in the opening minutes. Mob activities like numbers, bookmaking, shylock, or drug trade all produce cash. This dirty money needs to be someplace – so on any particular night, a bar serves as a temporary holding area for this cash.
They use time release safes which means the ‘vendors’ drop their cash off at the bar, and it ends up in the safe, rather than the cash register, and then the mob guys come by and pick it up later. The drop bar changes on a regular basis.
The film has a low-key feel to it. There’s some action, but this film is character driven rather than action oriented. The screenplay takes its time to reveal the multiple layers of each character, and as such, this is more of an actors film that a story driven by the plot.
Tom Hardy as Bob Saginowsky was great. This was a performance that builds and builds – not with highlights but rather with steadiness and continuity. When he finds an abandoned puppy, but hasn’t a clue about caring for a dog – you feel for him.
By the way – despite showing us a dog early, which is usually considered a cardinal mistake because the audience then worries about the dog, this time while we did worry about the pooch, it was handled well.
James Gandolfini, as always, has just a great screen presence. Just watching his face change, depending on what’s going on was a joy.
Cousin Marv: I had something once. When I walked into a place, people sat up straight, they noticed. I was respected. I was FEARED.
Noomi Rapace as Nadia – she’s the neighborhood girl who helps Saginowsky with the dog. She’s also got an air of intrigue about her. But in all honesty, this was not a great part for an actress. Any one could have appeared as Nadia.
Matthias Schoenaerts as Eric Deeds was okay. He played the neighborhood headcase. A small time violent hoodlum with mean streak in him. I liked Schoenaerts from Rust and Bone (2012). This performance was not quite as good as that one.
John Ortiz – I’ve liked this actor since his role in 2006 in Miami Vice when he played Jose Yero. I enjoyed him in the HBO Series Luck too. Here he plays a police detective. He’s likeable in the role and has a way of connecting with you (as a viewer) or with the characters he faces in the story. It’s a small role, but Ortiz shines.
On the whole the film can be recommended. It has its slow spots, and yet, if you are willing to forego things like shootouts, chases, and explosions – this is a film that can work for you. Three point five is my rating.
Check out the trailer: