Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Rarely do organized crime movies have heart warming or touching moments. In fact, most of the times you’re trying to find that soft spot or likeable quality about the sociopath on screen and a lot of times…you don’t. “The Drop” is a by the books crime drama that you’ve seen before, but the character driven story, along with the elegant performances by the key players, makes it a superb movie.
The first key player is the late, great James Gandolfini. It’s ironic that his final on-screen role will be one that symbolizes what people will remember him as, a thug. Instead of being a criminal ring leader like he has been in past roles, this time he’s an aging, depressed bar owner known simply as Cousin Marv. He also runs a bar…simply known as Cousin Marv’s. He bitterly reflects on the glory days of being respected instead of his current predicament, the money launderer for a Chechnyan gang that casually threatens him through cocky smiles.
His hardest worker is the low key, shy bartender, Bob (Hardy). He has a gentle soul and his dialogue borders on unintelligible mumbling, but the British born actor creates an understandable Brooklyn accent for the endearing character. Every little thing about Bob is stupendously crafted by Hardy, who gives subtle visual cues that add to Bob’s good intentioned exterior, but his quick darting of the eyes towards the floor or to something else reflect the mind of a person that constantly is reminded of something more alarming.
The story sprinkles dread filled bread crumbs around the intriguing history behind these two. What complicates things and really adds the warmth to the plot is when Bob heads home after work one night and comes across a young, abused pit bull in the trash outside of the home of Nadia (Rapace). He instinctively doesn’t suspect that she’s the one who harmed the dog and connects with her over the torn and tattered puppy as they dress it’s wounds. Just like society’s stereotypes, Bob and the pit bull are misunderstood creatures.
Bob eventually becomes the center of this character study as tensions escalate when someone robs the Cousin Marv’s bar. One wonders how Bob will react when there’s so many contradictory character opinions about who the real Bob is. The parallels between the general misconceptions about the violence in pit bulls and people constantly warning that there’s more to Bob than meets the eye are uncanny. By the time the end comes, the reveal is a bit anticipated, but still satisfying because of Bob’s reasoning and how well Hardy makes it believable.
The script sharply keeps us in the dark while most of the other people surrounding Bob seem to know something we don’t, but dare don’t utter it. Hardy is a real joy to watch as he weaves from scene to scene, perfectly balancing mystery and charm. Despite his increasing infection for Nadia, it never feels covetous or sexual, but more of an appreciation for someone that could be attracted to someone like him; which adds more intrigue into his murky past.
While “The Drop” will most likely be overlooked come awards season, it’s important to point out that Gandolfini, being one of the main instigators for problems, comes off as sympathetic despite his hardened demeanor.“The Drop” is a reminder of the great talent that no longer graces our presence. It also provides us the reminder that sometimes the darkest of actions have the most compassionate reasons.