From watching the trailer, several enticing elements about ‘The Drop’ become evident. First, there’s Tom Hardy. Over the last few years, the guy has proven himself as one of the best actors out there. Second, Noomi Rapace. She’s an amazing chameleon who can adapt to any setting. Third, it’s a seemingly gritty modern day mobster flick, and who doesn’t love those? Finally, it’s James Gandolfini’s final film. Even if ‘The Drop’ is a flop, it will still be good to see “Tony Soprano” in one last gangster role. The question is: Will all of these positive elements blend into an unforgettable movie?
Whether you decide to see ‘The Drop’ or not shouldn’t be based only on word-of-mouth. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I can also understand exactly why some people don’t like it. The consensus of the press screening I attended appeared to be split right down the middle, both sides polarized and no one in the middle. You’ll probably either like it or dislike it. There will be few “It was OK” reactions. You’ll either relish in this slow burner, or you’ll feel burned by it.
Hardy plays Bob, a bartender in a Brooklyn neighborhood. His cousin Marv (Gandolfini) used to own the bar, but when times got hard, he was forced to hand it over to Chechen mobsters. Now, Marv runs the bar for the Chechens, who occasionally use it as one of the “drop” locations where their henchmen nightly hand over collected dirty money.
The ball starts rolling when two small-time robbers hold up the joint and take it for $5,000. As expected, the Chechens view Bob and Marv as possibly being in on the robbery, which puts them on edge. Fearing what the Chechens might do, Bob and Marv understand that they must uncover the robbers’ identities and recover the cash… or else.
At the same time, a subplot unfolds where Bob finds a beaten and discarded puppy in a trashcan (which is where author Dennis Lehane came up with the short story’s original title, ‘Animal Rescue’). Being a simple and kind man, he can’t leave it there to die. So, with the help of the woman whose trashcan it was (Rapace), he works to heal and raise his new pet. Of course, much of this storyline is symbolic of the characters and won’t have a connection to the main story until the very end.
For those who don’t like ‘The Drop’, the slow burn is too slow and the payoff – including seeing how the two stories connect – isn’t enough. But for me, the slow burn kept me engaged all the way through to the unpredictable and satisfying ending. The movie’s not perfect. It has repeated tonal issues that arise sporadically in different scenes. I found it worth seeing at least twice: once to blindly watch and enjoy, and a second viewing to see which clues you missed the first time. No matter what you hear or what you read, you’re better off seeing it for yourself.