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The Drop - Movie Review


4 stars

Drenched in brooding atmosphere, The Drop is this year’s answer to the film noir of yesterday. Bullhead’s own Belgian director Michaël R. Roskam assembles a talented cast to guide us through the dark end of a robbery inside a mafia-owned tavern. The grim-faced characters that populate the screenplay may not say a lot but that’s because they don’t need to as the camera speaks volumes about the dread closing in for them.

The Drop is actually based upon a short story written by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone). He’s adapted his own work and does so with precise attention to detail and to dialogue. He’s even stripped down the pup-centric plot of his aptly named “Animal Rescue” to its essentials. It takes a strong group of serious actors to pull off this kind of bare-bones material without snickering at the two-faced simplicity in some of the passing dialogue or scenarios. Tom Hardy, playing the role of Bob the bartender, and the late James Gandolfini (in his final performance) are the perfect combination to squeeze every bit of Brooklyn into their characters.

The voice-over from Bob Saginowski (Hardy) that kicks off the picture gives fair warning to what is about to unfold. The gallows pole humor comes with the thin line territory between the living and the dead that his story trespasses. Bob’s a bartender and knows all about “the drop”, code for where the Chechen mob’s money winds up each night. The night his bar – or what used to be his bar – is chosen is the night he gets robbed. He must play it cool alongside Cousin Marv (Gandolfini) and remember not to outsmart their Chechen agitators or betray their working-class backgrounds as they quickly try to recover what was stolen. Things get tense quickly but only the subdued performances from Hardy and Gandolfini keep us riveted and guessing as to their true characters.

There’s a lot to like in The Drop. Whether it is Noomi Rapace’s quiet performance or the fact that this is a motion picture more concerned with relationships than with plot, Roskam succeeds in drawing us into his bleak world and leaving us a bit winded as we rediscover the power of simple humanity. These are believable characters perfectly at home in the real world and with themselves. You feel them and smell them and, in the hands of Hardy (who is such a great actor) and Gandolfini, you recognize them immediately as real, salt of the earth people.

Roskam keeps things bustling along at a nice pace and, in spite of the simplicity of the story, you never feel a minute of it. His movie feels to me like wearing the most comfortable pair of jeans I own. It’s that easy to slip into. Very familiar. While not perfect, Roskam and his actors allow for comfort before stressing us out with situational worry as new characters are introduced. If there is a weakness in its threads, it’s only in the fact that Lehane has narrowed the overall scope of his story that, at times, some details feel more like sheer happenstance. The grizzled performances are the key here. Concentrate on that and you’ll do fine with the pulp of this crime drama.

The Drop may just save you from your own guarded behavior around the strangers you call friends.


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The Drop - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: R for some strong violence and pervasive language..
106 mins
: Michaël R. Roskam
Writer: Dennis LeHane
Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini
: Drama | Crime
The Drop
Memorable Movie Quote: "Are you doing something desperate? Something we can't clean up this time?"
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Official Site: http://www.thedrop-movie.com/
Release Date:
September 12, 2014
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available
Synopsis: Bob Saginowski finds himself at the center of a robbery gone awry and entwined in an investigation that digs deep into the neighborhood's past where friends, families, and foes all work together to make a living - no matter the cost.


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