THE DROP Mean Streets

The Drop
The Drop

Directed by Michael R. Roskam

Starring Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini, Noomi Rapace, Matthias Schoenaerts

Throughout the black economy of Brooklyn, there is a concept know as a ‘drop bar’. This rotating collection of bars act as a bank for all the takings from illegal activity on a certain night. Bob (Tom Hardy) has worked in one of these bars for years, ever since he and his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini) put the life of a hardened criminal behind them. Marv dreams of the glory days, while Bob seems quietly settled with his lot, but when he discovers a beaten pit-bull pup in the trash one night, Bob is set on a trajectory that puts his quiet life in danger. While the allure of the drop becomes too tempting for some, Bob must work out what the smart play is, and how to not end up a casualty in a struggle for wealth and respect in the criminal fraternity.

A tight atmospheric crime thriller, The Drop was adapted by screen writer Dennis Lehane (Mystic River) from his own short story, Animal Rescue (which in turn was later expanded to the novel, The Drop). Director Michaël R. Roskam manages to use the cold, crowded Brooklyn streets to his advantage, creating an atmosphere of bleakness and confinement. The end result is a tense film, where everyone seems isolated and guarded, working their own play and paranoid of getting burned by someone else. It may be a slow burn, but there is a constant sense of pressure, as if a wrong turn could find you locked in a car trunk lined with plastic.

In keeping with this the performances are all underplayed, both supporting the sparse naturalistic dialogue, and the fact that all the characters are keeping their cards close to their chest. Tom Hardy’s Bob Sagonoski is fascinating. Quiet and contained, he always seems to carry a sense of melancholic loneliness about him. Bob may accept his lot in life, but it is a somewhat fatalistic acceptance. Hardy portrays this well, giving the character the right hangdog expression without seeming, well, mopey. Yet there is also a cunning about him, a calculated patience and a hint of danger, that others often overlook. Gandolfini’s Marv marks the last screen appearance for the veteran actor, and he goes out with a more typical gangster role rather than the romantic lead he played in last year’s Enough Said. It’s playing to Gandolfini’s strengths and he delivers everything that is expected.

Beautiful, brooding and oft times brutal, The Drop delivers a tense slice of criminal life on the streets of Brooklyn, with a few twists along the way. A cautionary tale that shows that no mater how badass you think you are, you just don’t fuck with another man’s bar.