The Drop, directed by Michaël R. Roskam with a screenplay by author Dennis Lehane, represents the final film performance of the late James Gandolfini. Does the film send him off in style, or does it drop the ball? (heh, heh)
Unfortunately, the answer is a little bit of both. Gandolfini is fine as Cousin Marv, a bitter neighborhood tough guy who had his bar bought out from him by a real criminal element. However, the movie as a whole is a pretty disjointed affair. The main beats of the story are clear and easy to follow, but then there are several non-sequiter scenes that seemingly have little connection to the rest of the film. As is the case with several films lately, it feels like some connective tissue was left on the cutting room floor, leaving The Drop with a herky-jerky feel.
The main focus of the piece isn’t even Gandolfini, but Tom Hardy’s soft-headed bartender, Bob Saginowski. Bob is a good-natured guy who may have more than a few skeletons in his closet. He finds and adopts a puppy—the original title of the project was Animal Rescue—and befriends a scarred young woman, Nadia (Noomi Rapace). Cousin Marv’s bar gets robbed, which brings the attention of Detective Torres (John Ortiz) as well as the mobsters that use Cousin Marv’s as a “drop bar” for all their dirty money. On top of all that, the unstable original owner of Bob’s dog, Eric Deeds (Matthias Schoenaerts), wants the pooch back, complicating Bob’s life more than he knows.
There are some minor twists, but the majority you can see coming from a mile off. Torres is some kind of super cop with his inexplicably honed powers of deduction. It’s another case of the audience needing one more scene or two to make the connections in his leaps of logic. Despite the plodding pace of the plot, there was definitely a lot of tension in the final act, but I think that mainly came from the fact that I liked Hardy and Gandolfini so much in their roles.
The film belongs to Hardy as he plays Bob with wisdom of the world that he doesn’t really share with anyone else, but at times, you’ll look at the screen and say, “Wow, that guy’s an idiot.” It’s a credit to Hardy’s performance that the character doesn’t fall into caricature. Gandolfini is also great as the faded, wannabe gangster. Yes, he usually plays some form of Tony Soprano in practically everything else he does—for a completely different performance from him, check out last year’s fantastic Enough Said—but that’s what he did so well, so filmmakers went with what worked. He’ll definitely be missed. I kept thinking that Schoenaerts was a younger Jeremy Sisto, which took me out of the movie a bit. His character was very up and down, but that’s the point really. Ortiz does good work, though his character is incomprehensibly written. Noomi Rapace, though, I have never warmed up to her in English-speaking films. She was great in the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but I’ve never really liked her in anything else. She does an all right job here, I guess, but to me, she was the weak link when it came to the acting.
Ultimately, The Drop is a disappointment. The script is just too undercooked to make it a really good film. It may be a case of not enough story to support a feature film, but the only really compelling thing in the film is Hardy’s character and even he ended up as a disappointment by the end. I’d say skip it and maybe catch it on cable down the line.