The Drop is one of the most unusual thrillers I have ever seen. Written by novelist Dennis Lehane and directed by Belgian filmmaker Michael R. Roskam (a relative newcomer), The Drop has an unusual style, an unusual atmosphere, an unusual story and an unusual denouement. Unusual is good, of course, at least for me.
Tom Hardy delivers his second Oscar-worthy performance of the year (he’s the Matthew McConaughey of 2014) as Bob Saginowski, a lonely quiet bartender who works for his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini, in his final performance) in a small bar in Brooklyn. Once owned by Marv, the bar is now owned by Chechen gangsters and is used on occasion as one of a large number of ‘money drops’ (a way to funnel cash).
Walking in his neighbourhood one day, Bob comes across a wounded puppy that someone has tossed into a garbage can. As he takes the puppy out, Nadia (Noomi Rapace), the house’s owner (or renter) comes outside to confront him. Together, they decide to take care of the puppy and they become friends. That sure sounds like the beginning of a thriller to me! Murder and mayhem are obviously just around the corner!
Well, actually it turns out that the owner of the puppy is a sociopath named Eric Deeds, a man who boasts of killing a kid named Richie Whelan (also known as ‘Glory Days’), last seen alive in Cousin Marv’s bar. When Deeds comes looking for his puppy, things get tense. Although, things were already tense because a couple of masked men robbed Marv’s bar the day before. Actually, The Drop oozes tension (and dread) from the first shot to the last. That’s part of its weird style and magic. There’s a lot more I could say about the plot, but that would reduce the pleasure of the weirdness.
Hardy’s performance is extraordinary and is more than worth the cost of admission - yes, it’s that good. If Hardy’s greatness as an actor was ever in question, Locke and The Drop have ended the doubt. Gandolfini is also excellent in his final role. And Rapace is solid as the nervous Nadia. The cinematography is ‘unusual’ but perfect for this unusual film.
If you want to see a thriller that’s a few cuts above the average thriller coming out of Hollywood, look no further. But be warned: it’s a dark, disturbing and occasionally violent film. A solid ***+. My mug is up.