The Drop (2014)

The Drop (2014)

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They couldn't believe the gall of that dog, urinating in public.
They couldn’t believe the gall of that dog, urinating in public.

Twitter Plot Summary: Tom Hardy is a barman. He owns a dog. There are mobsters involved. People look tense.

Five Point Summary:

1. Tom Hardy, soft spoken.
2. Dog in a bin. Don’t worry – it’s not dead.
3. They really want their money back.
4. Stopped watch.
5. Superbowl.

Tom Hardy is Bob, a quiet man who tends bar for his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini). As Hardy’s convenient opening voiceover points out, the bar is one of several in the area that is a front for mobsters wanting to move cash around. The bar is subject to a robbery from a pair of two-bit robbers which sets off the film’s events and the ire of the mobsters who want their money back.

Bob is a man of God, however despite visiting church regularly never take communion – for reasons that will become apparent. On walking home from the bar one night he comes across a dog in a bin, a dog that has been badly beaten. The bin belongs to Nadia (Noomi Rapace), and they start to develop a friendship of sorts around the dog. Matters become complicated when a man called Eric Deeds (Matthias Schoenhaerts) shows up claiming to own the dog, then appears again and again, even breaking into their houses just to make a point.

Despite the various strong performances this is clearly Tom Hardy’s film, playing it perfectly so that you’re certain Bob will snap at any moment, the calm outer facade liable to dissolve at any time. It’s a fantastic slow build towards a tense finale where the various plot strands intertwine very nicely, and that’s thanks to a great script from Dennis Lehane, adapting his own short story Animal Rescue.

A close second to Hardy is his dog Rocco, whose role is to act as a catalyst for certain elements of the plot rather than being central to it. Still, the relationship between Rocco and Bob is presented well and develops as time goes on, much as it does with Nadia. She’s a put-upon woman who has half managed to turn her life around but still finds it influenced by her past.

If rumours are to be believed, the dog was a player on set.
If rumours are to be believed, the dog was a player on set.

John Ortiz is a local cop, Detective Torres, investigating the robbery, and who also happens to be a regular at Bob’s church. He sticks his nose into things throughout, gaining a drip feed of information alongside the audience and discovering that there is perhaps slightly more to events than anybody would like to admit to him. Torres always seems like he’s on the verge of cracking things wide open, however there’s never enough evidence for him to do so. Instead he’s an amiable presence, one who clearly knows what’s going down yet channels it into a passive-aggressive charm offensive.

The Drop is also notable for being the last movie to feature James Gandolfini who died in June 2013. As has always proved to be the case, he is a solid presence in The Drop, a man down on his luck and lamenting the fact he had to capitulate to Chechen mobsters ten years previously. He has great screen chemistry with Hardy, both of them communicating through body language more than dialogue – it’s what lies underneath, the subtext of their relationship being given context by their actions.

It’s fitting that Gandolfini’s last film happened to be one as strong as this. It doesn’t stray too far away from the bar in terms of the locations used, which creates a nicely intimate story that has wider stakes. It isn’t all that original, but the performances carry it alongside the gentle direction from Michael R Roskam.

Score: 4/5

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