Take a Drink: for each Gandolfini one-liner
Take a Drink: anytime a character uses an inconsistent Brooklyn accent
Do a Shot: when shit hits the fan
Do a Shot: for each red herring
Take a Drink: for each cute moment with the dog
By: Matt Conway (Tw0 Beers) –
It’s been over a year, but the loss of the great James Gandolfini is still being felt throughout Hollywood. As a Sopranos fan, Gandolfini will always have a place in my memory as giving one of the best performances in the recent history of television, as his sympathetic mobster protagonist was truly one of television’s more memorable characters. Then came Enough Said last year, which showed Gandolfini in a way that most audiences have never seen him. Warm and gentle, Gandolfini was undeniably charming and showed a side of himself that sadly audiences did not get to see enough.
Now a year later, Gandolfini’s final film The Drop is finally hitting theaters, with this being really something up his alley. Written by well-regarded crime novelist Dennis Lehane, The Drop has James Gandolfini back in the type of gritty mob film similar to a lot of the other roles he has done. Add that with the presence of the great Tom Hardy, and The Drop seemed to have a lot of potential. Thankfully, the film fully lives up to that potential, being a very good crime thriller.
Based on a Dennis Lehane short story called Animal Rescue, The Drop follows loner bartender Bob Saginowski, who gets caught up in the mob life when the drop bar he works at gets robbed. Not only does he face his fear of the mob, but also the fear of his secret past creeping back up.
While most of the press of the film is going towards Gandolfini, the real star of the film is Tom Hardy, who gives one of the year’s best performances. Hardy, who has played big and bold characters in films like Bronson, plays very much an everyman type of guy, who is a bit distant and lonely and haunted by his past. Hardy completely loses himself into the character, as it’s easy to buy himself as this distant man. Hardy adds a lot of subtlety to his character, which makes what could have been a simplistic character feel very realistic.
Even though Hardy leads the way, the supporting cast still does a fantastic job as well. James Gandolfini is playing a completely different character than he does in Sopranos, but still has the same edge and wise-cracking one liners that he is known for. Noomi Rapace just is not in enough movies these days, and does a solid job with her role as Bob’s new friend, as both her and Hardy have good chemistry together. Other actors, such as John Ortiz, a detective suspicious of the robbery, and Matthias Schoenaerts, as a suspicious man following Bob around, also stand out.
As you would expect from an adaption of Lehane’s work, the script is great. This is the first time Lehane has adapted his own work, and truly delivers. What separates The Drop from a lot of other crime films is the focus on characters. Lehane’s script does a great job of giving these characters dimension, as by the end of the film they are very well fleshed-out people. There are a lot of subtle little scenes that add to these characters in a lot of ways.
That’s not to say the story is weak, as The Drop has a well-realized narrative. Some critics have been saying that the film hits a check-list of sorts of crime cliches, but the story actually has a lot of unexpected twists and turns until these moments are finally revealed. One twist in particular really caught me off guard and added a lot to the characters involved.
With these characters being so well-developed, each and every decision they make felt completely realistic. Even though all of these characters are incredibly flawed, it’s hard not to root for Bob as he battles his past and his search for a companion, which builds up an emotional core. The characters throughout make poor decisions, but all of these decisions felt understandable as they were making decisions for their own wants and desires. This is essential for a film where characters make increasingly poor choices, as it’s pointless if there is no comprehension as to why characters are acting they way they act.
The film, while being a gritty crime drama, also has a lot of thematic material to grasp onto. The Drop deals with a lot of common themes like longing for the past and the overall morality of how people act. Common ideals like this are prevalent throughout the film, and some of these concepts left me thinking long after I left the theater.
The Drop has a great deal of tension built throughout, which has to be credited to the directorial effort by Michael R. Roskam. Throughout the film, there is a constant sense of fear that in any moment a character is going to snap or be in major trouble, which left me on the edge of my seat throughout. From small red herrings building up to the final conclusion to the ever-present use of score and dreary cinematography to build up the tension, there was not a moment where the events happening onscreen felt dull or inconsequential.
The Drop’s lone major flaw comes with its finale. While the climax is quite exciting and shocking with some brutal moments, the final scene of the movie felt lackluster. It was an emotionally unearned moment, that tries to add a hint of optimism to an otherwise brutal and quiet film. It’s the type of moment before the climax that I would have wanted to see, but after the climax felt tonally inconsistent and just unrealistic in a lot of ways.
I also have a few minor quips. While a lot of the characters in the film are quite well-rounded, I personally felt that Noomi Rapace’s character Nadia could have used some more development. Also, some of the actors’ Brooklyn accents felt a bit inconsistent at times, but these are mostly just some of the more minor characters.
The Drop is an emotional complex crime drama that features some of the year’s best performances and some surprisingly emotional moments. It’s thrilling and chilling in a lot of ways, and a fitting conclusion to the great James Gandolfini’s resume.