This being James Gandolfini’s last film, I thought I’d attatch one of his more famous lines from The Sopranos, as that’s what he’s known for and the mafia happens to play a big role in this film. He was the boss, is the boss, and will forever be the boss. May he rest in peace. “All due respect, you got no f—in’ idea what it’s like to be Number One. Every decision you make affects every facet of every other f—in’ thing. It’s too much to deal with almost. And in the end you’re completely alone with it all.” – Tony Soprano
Living a simple life in Brooklyn is nearly impossible, as the mafia has influences in every corner of the city. With massive amounts of money to move, the mafia can’t make deposits at any ole’ location. So, they stash their money in Drop Bars, specially selected bars that will hold their money for a certain amount of time. One of these bars, Cousin Marv’s, finds itself as being one of the regulars and Cousin Marv (James Gandolfini) himself gladly helps out. Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) tends the bar and has an idea of what goes on, but he stays silent and on the sideline. One night after taking a drop, Bob heads home as usual, but this time he discovers a beaten pitbull in a trash can.
After conversing with Nadia (Noomi Rapace), the woman whose trashcan the dog was found in, the two decide to take turns raising the dog. Meanwhile, at work, the drop bar is robbed by two masked men (James Frencheville & Tobias Segel) and they get away with some Chechen money. This doesn’t please boss Chovka (Michael Aranov), who makes it very clear that Marv and Bob need to retrieve the money, before they end up getting hurt. A detective (John Ortiz) close to Bob starts snooping around, as he’s suspicious of the bar, but Bob’s more concerned with a man named Eric Deeds (Matthias Schoenaerts) that’s lurking around his house. Deeds claims that the dog and Nadia are his, only making Bob grow more protective.
The Drop is a thrilling mafia flick that finds itself somewhere in a realm of violence, curious drama, and very dark comedy. Rather than focusing on the big heads of the mafia, this film, instead, focuses on the middle-men who don’t necessarily work for them, but aren’t entirely innocent either. Unfortunately, this is the last film to be released with Tony Soprano himself, James Gandolfini. It’s almost fitting that his last film was closer to the brilliant work that he did for most of life. It’s odd seeing him on-screen at first, but there’s a lot in this film to take you away from that, which I think really helps (I’ll explain why in a bit).
There’s really nothing to say about Tom Hardy that hasn’t been said a hundred times before. With films like Bronson, Warrior, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, and Locke under his belt, he’s proved to be a versatile actor that brings life and something new to each intriguing project that he chooses. With this latest role, Hardy exhibits a lot of restraint as a man who’s surrounded by corruption and impending death. He is a simple man, with simple pleasures, finding joy in things that make him standout among the people he works with. His calm demeanor is almost frightening and his attitude towards the world, including his ideals, make him an enigma that doesn’t quite fit with the jobs he does. Without saying much, he’s immediately got your attention and he has you clinging to every word he says.
Both Noomi Rapace and James Gandolfini take the backseat in supporting roles, but their involvement with Hardy’s character and exposure to his ways tell us a lot about what kind of people they all are. Rapace is no stranger to dark roles (ie. The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo), but it’s the moments where darkness flees from her character and she opens up, which really make her standout. She and Hardy have quiet, beautiful chemistry and the reactionary looks that she gives are extraordinary. Gandolfini, on the other-hand, finds himself as a once-feared mafia man who’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. He’s so good at what he does that his presence on-screen just feels natural and necessary. He’s intimidating when he needs to be, but he also knows his place in the chain of command and his handling of situations is always interesting to watch. He and Hardy have a complex relationship, but their unspoken understanding of their work and of each other is truly wonderful.
Writer Dennis Lehane is known for his novels (turned into successful movies) Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, Shutter Island, and now his short Animal Rescue has become The Drop. His writing is very dark, but it also spends quite a lot of time on its characters. Director Michael R. Roskam did an outstanding job of focusing on all the right things, like character development and the exploration of the character’s lives, leaving the mafia and all that in the background. A very strong element of this film revolves around the pitbull that Hardy and Rapace raise and through those moments when they’re with the dog, we learn a lot about the characters lives and how they fit in to this crazy life. Matthias Schoenaerts’ goosebump-inducing character is sort-of a metaphor, much like the pitbull, and Roskam cleverly plays with the audience as he lets the story develop.
For as interesting as most the characters were, there were a few that we never got to really know, at least not past the surface. John Oritz’s character comes to mind, as his detective character is never fully realized. He’s much like the other types that understand that they can’t touch the mafia, but he has his hunches about certain members and he thinks he may find a way in. Trouble is, he only pops up periodically and we never get to understand his character’s motivations enough to view him as anything more than a convenient asset. Similarly, the Chechen mobsters are underdeveloped and while they may be menacing, it’s never really explained how and why they know so much about what goes on at this Drop Bar. The logistics of how a Drop Bar works would also be interesting to explore, but I can see why that wasn’t explained in too much detail. Much like mafia dealings, we didn’t always get to see, or hear too much about what was going on.
The Drop didn’t feel too much like other movies of its genre, but it certainly pays homage to the ruthless dealings and darkly comic ways of the mafia. It’s always chilling when someone can laugh about breaking another persons legs, just to make them fit in a freezer. It’s all in the delivery, and most everybody delivered in this film. Despite this being Gandolfini’s last film, Tom Hardy commands the screen with his repressed role and his journey is one that’s certainly worthwhile. Rapace and Gandolfini only help emphasize Hardy’s character and their world, but they each offer up some great performances too. The writing is meticulous, the attention to detail is crucial, and the atmosphere created is an eerie one. The film could’ve explained a few things and people better, but I really enjoyed my time with it nonetheless.
The Drop Trailer