National release: November 14thRating:(15)Run time: 106 mins
The Drop is this year’s Taken and Drive. Less stylised and polished than the latter two its visually appeal comes from Roskam’s and Lehane’s purposefully back to basics approach, in script and direction, with no other obligation that to tell a story using guns, murder and plot under the guidance of an unassuming hero. Less about the gangs of new york and more on the lives of others, ordered to sustain them, spotlight falls on low-key New York City bar; a haven of beer, sporting events and friendly gatherings. They’re also money-laundering hotspots known as ‘drop’ bars, where dirty money is literally dropped off in a bar and into a safe where the authorities are none-the-wiser.
Bob Saginowski (Hardy), the enigmatic and seemingly simple barman, is working in his cousin Marv’s (Gandolfini) watering hole, only it’s also a drop bar, which means Marv has very little control over the establishment he built, and he’s secretly seething about it. When the bar is robbed, Bob makes the mistake of throwing a clue in the authorities way (led by Ortiz as Detective Torres).
Marv is dismayed, despite the robbery the neighbourhood is one organism, and no one talks to the feds – the more they’re involved the worse it is, for everybody. But a police detective with a suspicious hunch and a nose for when he’s being shoved out the door means he’s got some digging into to do. Meanwhile, Marv and Bob try their best to appease the gangster’s – not before they’re treated to a few little ‘surprises’ to show what happens when people steal from a drop bar. Marv is superficially obedient, but behind closed doors he’s dangerously defiant; Bob just wants to let sleeping dogs lie and get on with the job and his simple life.
Talking of dogs, Bob uncovers his own ‘drop’ in the form of a puppy in a trash can. He rescues the animal and with the help of the owner of said trash-can (and convenient hottie played by Rapace) Nadia, and soon Bob has a sort of unconventional pseudo-family forming – he even names the puppy Rocco (perhaps one of the highlights of this ominous film) and they’re a charming duo, both gruff looking and shaking off reputations they’ve seemingly inherited simply because of where they come from: Nadia alludes that Rocco should be put down for being a pit bull, whilst Bob is unfortunate enough to be related to Marv, where trouble is sure to follow.
Bob’s relationship with Nadia is a little temperamental; She has a dark past that’s literally etched into her neck and a volatile criminal ex Eric Deeds (Schoenaerts) who likes to stalk her house and throw puppies in trash cans. Weary of getting close to anyone and unable to really ascertain if Bob is as uncomplicated as she wants him to be, even she can’t resist Rocco and offers to stick around for the pups welfare. Things go from bad to worse as several subplots come to a head – the culprits behind the robbery are planning on doing another job on the bar; the gangsters are growing impatient with Marv’s capabilities to replace their stolen money, and Nadia’s ex (and notorious neighbourhood killer) has his sights on Bob and Detective Torres has his sights on all of them.
Basically nothing and no one is what or as it seems in The Drop. It’s a game of poker, and film that consistently asks the audience if they’re really empathising with the right people – when truths are revealed and the film gains traction the characters begin to reveal themselves and their motives, resulting in a brilliant climactic showdown.
Tom Hardy adding another notch to a versatile and long career. Noomi Rapace taking on empathy with an impressive subtly. And a gratifying posthumous performance from James Gandolfini. With this proven talent who have arguably and individually been seminal in bringing some of the worlds most morally challenged, demented and exciting characters to the small and big screen, and a cracking script and story, means that The Drop is this years a consistent and wholly enjoyable thriller.