Regular Dude Movie Review: The Drop

Above:  James Gandolfini and Tom Hardy in 'The Drop'
Above: James Gandolfini and Tom Hardy in 'The Drop'

I had two major takeaways from The Drop, which follows titles like Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and Shutter Island as Dennis Lehane works adapted to the big screen:

1. James Gandolfini was under-utilized during his career and will be sorely missed, and

2. Tom Hardy is on the short list of best actors of his generation, running side-by-side with Michael Fassbender, and his physicality gives him a slight lead.

The Drop centers around Cousin Marv’s Bar, formerly owned by Cousin Marv (Gandolfini), until the Chechen mafia rolled into town and bullied the ownership from him. Now it serves as a “drop bar,” one of numerous joints around Brooklyn where illegal funds arrive throughout the night before getting collected. One night, two locals bust in and make off with a couple grand, setting in film in motion as it weaves through the who and why behind the hold-up and how things will ultimate come to be resolved.

I don’t want to give anything away, so I’m gonna dead the recap portion here, and move on simply to the performances.

Gandolfini is always going to be remembered as Tony Soprano – rightfully so – but when you look back, there are some performances that slipped through the cracks because he wasn’t yet a star, like The Last Castle and The Mexican. Last year’s Enough Said garnered attention because it hit right after his passing and The Drop should serve as a reminder of what a phenomenal talent this man was.

Cousin Marv is a proud man that has spent a decade living with wounded pride – someone that fancied himself a tough guy, but when push came to shove, he wasn’t tough enough to hold on to what was his and he’s been stewing in that knowledge ever since. It’s seen in the way he interacts with different people – he’s terse, blunt and sharp with people he feels he has power over, but demure when his Chechen employers roll through.

And it eats him up every minute he’s on screen.

As good as Gandolfini is here, Hardy shines even brighter as Bob Saginowski, playing under the dim lights behind the bar with a worrisome presence.

Hardy is able to express things in such small ways – he doesn’t need monologues or tons of movement, just a couple lines, delivered in a hunched-over mumble or a moment to wince in the camera does the trick.

From the second Bob’s voice over begins the movie and he glides onto the screen, you’re wondering what it is about him you don’t know – what are they keeping from us? He’s a blue-collared bartender, working for his cousin, aiming to get by without making any waves. He’s quiet and has a compassionate side, saving a pit bull pup that has been beaten and abandoned. (Note: the dog is so damn cute and steals ever scene he’s in…)

Hardy is able to put a polite, respectful, church-going facade on a character that you can’t help but think has something simmering underneath the surface, and there are points where you find yourself questioning whether or not that is actually the case? “Is there more to this guy or is this just who he is?”

It takes a real talent to execute that and Hardy does it effortlessly. As much as Bane will stand as his most recognizable role to date, there is so much more to him than being a physical menace and it shows through here, just as it did in the good-not-great Lawless a couple years back.

The Drop is an engaging and entertaining film, one that you should definitely check out.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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