The late James Gandolfini stars alongside Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace, in this engaging crime drama about a Brooklyn bartender (Hardy) whose bar is robbed and also finds a beaten dog in a bin. Tough week.
The Drop revolves around Hardy’s magnetic performance, as quietly intense and interesting as we’ve come to expect from the versatile actor. His character is like a Brooklyn version of Rocky Balboa, with his slightly dumb likability and reluctant toughness, not to mention his lovely dog. His relationship with Rapace’s character is a faint glimpse of hope in a world of cruelty, and she effectively reprises her scarred-woman role from the rubbish Dead Man Down. Gandolfini rounds off the cast in his inimitable style, with an imposing presence that will be greatly missed.
We’re given time to get to know these strong characters, thanks to Dennis Lehane’s barbed screenplay, based on his short story Animal Rescue. You can see why they changed it. Director Michaël R. Roska imbues The Drop with a strong sense of place, shooting foreboding conversations on Brooklyn’s icy streets in a way that invokes William Friedkin’s brilliant The French Connection. But this Brooklyn seems almost purgatorial, with religious undertones about sin and the local church symbolically closing down.
There’s nothing particularly innovative about The Drop, which feels a bit like the recent Killing Them Softly, also featuring Gandolfini. But it’s a well-made crime flick with great performances, writing and music by Raf Keunen and Marco Beltrami. It’s probably the best movie about an animal in a bin since the footage of that cat lady in Coventry.