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The Drop Movie Review

The Drop (2014) movie poster The Drop

Theatrical Release: September 12, 2014 / Running Time: 106 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Michaël R. Roskam / Writer: Dennis Lehane (screenplay & short story Animal Rescue)

Cast: Tom Hardy (Bob Saginowski), Noomi Rapace (Nadia), James Gandolfini (Cousin Marv), Matthias Schoenaerts (Eric Deeds), John Ortiz (Detective Torres), Ann Dowd (Dottie), Michael Aronov (Chovka), James Frecheville (Fitz), Elizabeth Rodriguez (Detective Romsey), Tobias Segal (Briele), Michael Esper (Rardy)
The Drop is one of DVDizzy.com's Top 100 Movies of the Half-Decade (2010-2014).The Drop ranks 76th in our list of the Top 100 Movies of the Half-Decade (2010-2014).

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Crime novels by Dennis Lehane have been adapted into three of the best films of the 21st century in Mystic River,
Gone Baby Gone, and Shutter Island. Lehane makes his screenwriting debut on The Drop, single-handedly adapting his 2009 short story "Animal Rescue." The film relocates the action from Lehane's flavorful hometown Boston to Brooklyn, but otherwise in content and quality this film easily compares to the aforementioned three with its gripping tale of duplicitous working class characters.

Adapting an unusual and perhaps not entirely consistent accent, Tom Hardy plays Bob Saginowski, a bartender at Cousin Marv's, a little joint managed by his cousin and friend Marv (James Gandolfini in his very last film). Marv used to own the bar, but now he simply runs it for a frightening Chechen (Michael Aronov) and his entourage. The title refers to the practice of neighborhood racketeers designating different bars on different nights for laundering their illicit spoils.

"The Drop" stars James Gandolfini as Cousin Marv and Tom Hardy as Bob Saginowski, who together operate a Brooklyn bar that is robbed.

The crime world takes a back seat to something more compassionate when Bob finds a puppy pit bull inside a garbage can. Bob rescues the dog, a bloodied product of obvious abuse and abandonment, and has Nadia (Noomi Rapace), the woman in whose trash can it was found, treat it. Nadia helps Bob get everything he'll need to care for the dog, to whom he quickly takes a liking. Meanwhile, at work, Bob watches as he and Cousin Marv are robbed at gunpoint, their cash register emptied of $5,000.

The robbery is part of something bigger, but it's not as pressing a matter for Bob, who attends daily mass but does not take communion, as a local hood's (Matthias Schoenaerts) claim that he owns the dog Bob has named Rocco. The hood's intimidation tactics prompt some soul-searching from Bob, paving the way for a tense climax set on Super Bowl Sunday, the day that Cousin Marv's place is scheduled to function as the drop spot.

Nadia (Noomi Rapace) helps Bob (Tom Hardy) get what he needs to take care of his new rescued puppy Rocco. Eric Deeds (Matthias Schoenaerts) informs Bob (Tom Hardy) that the dog belongs to him and he has the papers to prove it.

Lehane's stories have previously been entrusted to first-class directors: Clint Eastwood, Ben Affleck, and Martin Scorsese. The Drop, on the other hand, is helmed by Michaël R. Roskam, a Belgian filmmaker with only one feature to his name: the 2012 Foreign Language Film Academy Award nominee Bullhead. That is one more feature than Affleck had under his belt when cameras began rolling on Gone Baby Gone.
The Drop's ability to hold your attention with hard-edged character drama, suspense, and mystery suggests the author's inherently cinematic material is bound to arrest no matter who is calling "Action!" and who has written the screenplay.

Some viewers may be disappointed to find that The Drop is slow-paced and relatively short on action and thrills. That's all okay with me, someone who finds a well-done suspenseful crime story as worthy an art form as any in film. The intimate setting allows us to soak up the details of these characters. For instance, Marv is living with his sister (a briefly seen Ann Dowd) and the two of them are struggling to save money for a trip to Europe. Nadia is distrustful and hides a dark, pained past. Bob is a slow-witted and simple soul, a seemingly guileless loner whose life is immediately brightened by his adoption of Rocco (whom he'd rather name Mike).

The slow pace invites scrutiny and nitpicking. There are sure to be those who predict the ending far in advance and as a result deny the movie's effectiveness. Others may object to the way that the movie presents its two levels of overlapping conflict and tidily resolves both threads in a single night. Neither criticism is something I would throw at the film, which is absorbing, suitably atmospheric, and technically and structurally sound.

Hardy impresses in his first protagonist role in a Hollywood film. He disappears in the part, shedding his tough guy image to unearth sweetness and earnestness that occasionally come close to mental or social disability. Gandolfini is great as always, with this satisfyingly capping off the productive and largely agreeable post-"Sopranos" phase of his career. Rapace's New York accent is imperfect, but she is a welcome presence as leading lady, proving she's as well-suited for a small independent character study as she is for the big American tentpole work of Prometheus and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. The supporting cast also contributes to the movie, with actors like Dowd, Schoenaerts, and John Ortiz adding class and authenticity.

In theaters today, The Drop opens too early to harbor any genuine awards ambitions. (Besides Mystic River, which won two acting Oscars and Golden Globes and competed for many more, Lehane adaptations have seriously undervalued in accolades.) But as far as smart, serious fall movies go, this is certain to be one of the highlights of the season.

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Related Reviews:
Adapted from Dennis Lehane: Gone Baby Gone | Tom Hardy: The Dark Knight RisesLawlessThis Means War
James Gandolfini: Killing Them SoftlyViolet & DaisyNot Fade AwayZero Dark ThirtyDown the Shore
Noomi Rapace: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of ShadowsDead Man Down | Matthias Schoenaerts: Rust and Bone
John Ortiz: Silver Linings PlaybookJack Goes Boating | James Frecheville: Animal KingdomAdore

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Reviewed September 12, 2014.

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