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The Drop (Tom Hardy/James Gandolfini) - Review

The Drop

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

MICHAEL R Roskam’s crime drama The Drop is as deceptive as many of the characters who occupy it – but in a good, often brilliant way.

Based on a short story named Animal Rescue by the revered Dennis Lehane (which he has adapted into his own script), the film unfolds around a New York bar used as a drop site for the city’s dirty money. When the bar is robbed, its two co-owners, Marv (James Gandolfini) and Bob (Tom Hardy), are tasked with recovering the funds. But needless to say, nothing is quite what it seems.

Just as he has previously done with the likes of Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone, Lehane has taken a familiar concept within the crime genre and populated it with some rich characters and some emotive themes concerning power, loss, regret and the need to find second chances. It provides the film with a platform upon which to showcase some masterful performances.

Gandolfini, in his final role, is great – a quietly simmering cauldron of repressed frustation. His Marv pines for a greatness his life never quite achieved and there’s a mounting sense of desperation that is brilliantly realised. Gandolfini almost quietly trades on his Tony Soprano persona… if Tony had never managed to rise to the top, or maybe had lost it all and was forced to live out his final years in hiding in a bar.

But Hardy, sporting an impressive New York accent, is his equal – an apparently warm, yet slow-witted everyman character who is ambling through life trying to please and find his own happiness. And yet there are hints that there is something more to him as well… a look, a gesture, a knowledge that hints of a past. Hence, when Marv and Bob find themselves being backed into a corner, it’s Hardy we’re most interested in seeing respond.

There’s rich support, too, from Noomi Rapace, as Bobs love interest, who bears her own scars from life, yet who offers an unlikely shot at some kind of happiness, as well as from Matthias Schoenaerts, as a hustler and ex-con who is looking for his own way to exploit Bob’s situation. And then there’s John Ortiz’s cynical cop, aware of the bigger picture surrounding the bar and its occupants, but powerless to obtain the proof.

Roskam allows all of these characters to co-exist in a way that allows his audience to properly get to know them as people – which makes some of the last act revelations all the more shocking and/or powerful.

And while his film is certainly slow-building, it simmers perfectly, coming to the boil in mouthwatering fashion to deliver an ending that few will see coming, but which can’t fail to impress.

The Drop is one of the finest crime dramas you’re likely to see in a long time, graced by some truly exceptional performances.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 106mins
UK Release Date: November 14, 2014