The Drop

Review by Adam Woodward @AWLies

Directed by

Michael R Roskam

Starring

James Gandolfini Matthias Schoenaerts Tom Hardy

Anticipation.

The first English-language effort from Bullhead director Michaël R Roskam.

Enjoyment.

Much less than the sum of its parts.

In Retrospect.

Give it a go if only to see Gandolfini shine one last time.

The late James Gandolfini shows Tom Hardy how it’s done in this gritty gutter thriller.

If there’s one thing guaranteed to get us in the holiday spirit, it’s a time-honoured tale of bad men and mean streets. Particularly a Christmas-set crime drama boasting a top-drawer James Gandolfini performance, sadly his last committed to film. In The Drop, a loose adaptation of the Dennis Lehane short story ‘Animal Rescue’, Gandolfini plays surly cousin Marv, who together with Tom Hardy’s reticent lunkhead, Bob, runs a “drop bar” – so called because it’s where various local criminals stash their dirty loot – in one of Brooklyn’s toughest neighbourhoods.

When a masked gang opportunely holds up the bar, Marv must answer to the Chechen drug lords whose money he’s supposed to be safeguarding. As you can probably guess, they’re not about to cut him any slack. Meanwhile Bob builds up a casual rapport with a woman named Nadia (Noomi Rapace), whom he meets after finding an abandoned puppy in a bin outside her house. For a time it seems the spark between them might lead to something more, but this is not your typical fairy tale of New York.

Before long Nadia’s thuggish ex Eric (Matthias Schoenaerts) arrives on the scene, first approaching Bob in a park with an insincere cordiality that would unnerve any vigilant dog owner, and later paying Nadia an unsociable visit. Not one to be easily intimidated, Bob watches intently over Nadia and his adorable mutt, Rocco, while attempting to keep John Ortiz’s snooping detective off his back. If Bob’s apparent selflessness and protective instincts mean we quickly warm to him, however, a gratuitous third act twist completely destroys the emotional bridge that director Michaël R Roskam has built between his character and the audience.

The fact that Bob is positioned early on as the only character worth investing in (Rapace is regrettably restricted to playing the vague love interest) means that the aforementioned revelation leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. Gandolfini and Schoenaerts, teaming up with his Bullhead director for a third time, are both excellent here. Yet their muscular performances are ultimately undermined by the film’s preoccupation with Hardy, who relishes another opportunity to demonstrate the brooding intensity that’s made him Hollywood’s go-to guy when it comes to playing deeply troubled protagonists.

You sense Roskam is trying to evoke Ryan Gosling’s nameless wheelman from Drive here, but the only notable point of comparison between these two complex antiheroes is that Hardy happens to be sporting this season’s must-have jacket.

Published 13 Nov 2014

Tags: Tom Hardy

Anticipation.

The first English-language effort from Bullhead director Michaël R Roskam.

Enjoyment.

Much less than the sum of its parts.

In Retrospect.

Give it a go if only to see Gandolfini shine one last time.

Read More

Bullhead

By Violet Lucca

Rust And Bone bruiser Matthias Schoenaerts is our tragic guide to the crazy world of the Flemish bovine hormone black market.

review

Warrior

By Adam Woodward

Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton star in this rousing, fiercely acted tale of sibling bonds bruised and bandaged.

review

Locke

By David Jenkins

Tom Hardy driving a car for 90 minutes equals riveting drama from director Steven Knight.

review

What are you looking for?

Little White Lies Logo

About Little White Lies

Little White Lies was established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them. Combining cutting-edge design, illustration and journalism, we’ve been described as being “at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement.” Our reviews feature a unique tripartite ranking system that captures the different aspects of the movie-going experience. We believe in Truth & Movies.

Editorial

Design