The Drop is a new crime drama from Michaël R. Roskam, the Academy Award nominated director of Bullhead. Based on a screenplay from Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone), The Drop follows lonely bartender Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) through a covert scheme of funneling cash to local gangsters – “money drops” in the underworld of Brooklyn bars. Under the heavy hand of his employer and cousin Marv (James Gandolfini), Bob finds himself at the center of a robbery gone awry and entwined in an investigation that digs deep into the neighborhood’s past.
With the concept of the film, and the talent of the cast assembled, expecting something more promising than the final product is understandable. Other films in recent years based on Dennis Lehane’s work have turned into critical and commercial performers, but The Drop is unlikely to join Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and Shutter Island.
The Drop is adapted from a Lehane short story, “Animal Rescue,” and that origin helps explain the relatively brief runtime. Even with a 106 minute runtime, though, the film moves at a slow pace much of the time. Mixed in with the plot mentioned in the summary is a significant subplot where Bob rescues a pitbull puppy from the garbage of a woman named Nadia (Noomi Rapace). Together, they raise the puppy, but Bob soon finds himself in the crosshairs of the dog’s original owner, who also has ties to Bob’s and Nadia’s pasts.
Tom Hardy gives an unusually understated performance, largely playing Bob with a quiet touch that hints at some sort of darkness. It’s effective most of the time, particularly in Bob’s interactions with Marv or with the puppy. Still, there were a few times where Hardy’s line delivery doesn’t quite sync with the lines themselves. During my screening, this resulted in some awkward laughter.
Fortunately, Gandolfini is effective as Marv. It’s not a surprise, but Gandolfini’s able to pull off a man who’s at times equally paranoid and scheming with ease. As his final screen role, it doesn’t have the same appeal as last year’s Enough Said, but it’s a solid final performance from the actor.
Ultimately, The Drop isn’t a bad film. In spite of the promise of the concept and cast, though, it is an underdeveloped one. It should appeal to fans of the genre, or to fans of Hardy or Gandolfini, but it’s hard to see the film drawing much of a crowd beyond that.