Michael R. Roskam gives us a treat of a film with The Drop, a toned-down gangster flick that concentrates on family ties, issues of territory and the importance of street credibility in Brooklyn. Adapted from the short story Animal Rescue, Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini star, the latter in his last role before his tragic death in 2013. Gandolfini is at his best here as ‘Cousin‘ Marv, an ageing wannabe mobster who, unwilling to get his own hands dirty, sets of a chain of events that culminates in a revenge-esque narrative. The plot is straightforward; gangsters drop money at various bars around the neighbourhood, said money gets stolen, someone needs to take the blame. For what seems like an elementary storyline, there are a number of great components that help to make Roskam’s film a refreshing watch.
The attraction for most will be the cast – this ensemble, featuring Noomi Rapace and John Ortiz in supporting roles, work well together to build a solid, and realistic portrayal of working-class inner-city life. Roskam is careful not to overdo the urban grit that the film encompasses and even better, the violence is kept to a minimum and only present when truly necessary. This violence helps to turn Hardy’s Bob into a two-dimensional character and its in this role that the actor can be seen as the pensive, brooding male that he is now so recognised for (hell, if you’re good at it, why not?). Sure, Bob shares similar traits to other characters Hardy has taken on, but he does the whole masculine-protective role well and its always a pleasure to watch him take on said persona. Beyond this tough-guy act, Hardy’s Brooklyn accent is immensely impressive and if you were unaware of just how British the actor was you wouldn’t, for one second, believe it was just practice.
The heart of The Drop lies with a unexpected supporting character, and really its this character who steals the film – the little Pitball puppy found in a dumpster in the early minutes. Rocco, as Bob and Nadia decide to name him, is adorable beyond words and is actually the main factor that brings several of the group together. It all sounds a bit strange at this point, but honestly, its a rather lovely aside to a genre usually dominated by death and brutality. At times Dennis Lehane’s script feels a little stilted, and it moves along at a snails pace for the majority but having said that The Drop is simply a cool (yes, cool), surprisingly upbeat film that will leave you satisfied.
To finish off it is most definitely appropriate to pay respect to Mr James Gandolfini. The actors career spanned over twenty-five years and he became known for his work in a number of critically acclaimed television and film roles, from everybody’s favourite – The Sopranos – to Killing Them Softly and True Romance. Known to many as Tony Soprano, and possibly remembered for one of the best lead performances in a television drama for the past twenty years, Gandolfini will continue to be recognised for his wonderful contribution to the industry, both on the big and small screen. James, thank you for sharing your talent with us.