The Drop is a tight and intriguing movie starring the late, great James Gandolfini and Tom Hardy. It is not surprising that it is one of the best movies of 2014. The movie is based on a short story about an animal rescue, but it’s essence was really about the sparsely-revealed forces that drive Bob, the quiet nephew of Cousin Marv, but Bob’s external demeanor is not all that it appears to be.
Our first impression of the laconic Bob Saginowski is that he is impaired, or at least a step slow. We slowly realize that this stealth, compassion and seeming helplessness is not to be mistaken for weakness. Bob pours drinks at Cousin Marv’s Bar, or what used to be Marv’s Bar, and it is painstakingly revealed that things were not always the way that they are now. Now, things are under the brutal control of the ruthless Chechen Mafia, with Marv being a mere lackey for the Mob since his bar was now used as a numbers money drop.
Michael R. Roskam has created more than just your typical gangster film here, he has created more, or maybe a lot less, depending on your sophistication as a film viewer. Rather than a continuum of blazing guns, screeching tires and head-jerking plot twists and surprises, we had mumbled, but revealing dialogue, as well as only sparse clues to what had driven Cousin Marv to his suicidal desperation. We also see how the methodical, but pragmatic Bob would deal with the new lives that had entered his increasingly dangerous world.
The acting was superior in The Drop, and James Gandolfini as Marv turns in his usual stunning performance as a former Boss who had been usurped by an even more ruthless group of thugs who now own his bar, and him. This fact had not been sitting well with Cousin Marv. In spite of his power and presence, his desperation is evident and his choices turn out to be deadly, and we are not talking Tony Soprano here, but a tragically defeated man.
Tom Hardy as Bob had the leading role in this movie and again shows why he is one of the premier actors of this era. Something was eating him, but we don’t really realize what it was until well into the movie. His performance just shows that movies and characters don’t need to reveal every single detail of the plot just to satisfy some low common denominator who might have been eating popcorn or texting instead of paying attention. I do think that the romantic aspect of Bob and Nadia’s relationship could have been omitted as there was not much attempt to develop it at all, so what was really the point? Anyway, this was just a minor distraction from a great acting performance.
Noomi Rapace as Nadia (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) brilliantly played an emotionally insecure woman that would impress a stoic and sometimes totally clueless Bob with just her kind attention to his new-found member of the family. Like Bob, she too was carrying a previously unmentioned burden and that burden would greatly impact the outcome for everyone involved. All movie goers are suckers for cute puppies as well as for cute women, so that aspect of the movie was a foregone conclusion, but Noomi brought that deer-in-the-headlights look when she was reunited with a former boyfriend. I won’t spoil the outcome, but good deeds are often rewarded, and former boyfriends can be dealt with in creative ways.
Matthias Schoenaerts as Eric Deeds was a quietly terrifying thug that was coasting on his reputation, but made a huge mistake when he misjudged the mettle of Bob. One puppy, one attractive ex-girlfriend and two men were one too many for this deadly game of musical chairs and extortion, and things are destined to turn out poorly for someone.
Many of the reviewers complained that the Director Rokam was far too sketchy with the details, leaving the movie watcher to rely on the meaningful mumbles or facial expressions of Bob to fill in the back story, at least enough to make the happenings on the screen meaningful. I disagree, and think that there is more than enough story, especially when you consider the fine acting performances all around. The Drop is not Goodfellas or The Godfather, but it is exactly nothing more than it attempts to be and that is to provide a stark contrast as to how two different men would deal with the same issue, and yes, with remarkably different results.
The movie is all about paying attention to, and taking proper care of what you just might find in your garbage, and that is all I’m saying about that. The editing was more than competent and the cinematography depicting the cluttered and declining houses and neighborhood was especially realistic. This is also James Gandolfini’s final film and I would be totally remiss if I did not mention what a pleasure it has been watching him on the screen. He left too soon and will be missed. Even though his part in The Drop was the part of a defeated man, his screen presence is never diminished. R.I.P., you big, lovable Bada Bing Gangster, you.