[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=0349140723][/pullquote] What a shame that The Drop stands as actor James Gandolfini’s final film, being that he barely stretches himself in this by-the-numbers crime thriller. There’s ˜gangsters’ all clichÃ©d and grim, a quiet normal protagonist and a series of events that go wrong. Were it not for the performance of Tom Hardy there is little else stopping this from being a straight-to-download film.
Bob (Hardy) is a bartender in Brooklyn. He spends his days taking out the trash and tending bar for his bully of a boss Marv (Gandolfini). After bonding with an immigrant woman (Noomi Rapace) over a stray dog, he draws the ire of her psychopath ex (Mathias Schoenaerts), meanwhile an unexpected robbery draws the ire of the local Chechen criminals as well as the police too. Bob and Marv find themselves drawn into a situation of their own making, but well out of their control.
The acclaimed director of Bullhead, Michael R. Roskam takes his first step into mainstream film-making here, and there are hints toward his talent. The obvious tension simmers at first, but quickly runs out of steam as Dennis Lehane’s script feels far too thin to properly create a coherent narrative. Adapted from his own short story Animal Rescue, there are added elements to the characters, but not nearly enough to satisfy.
The stellar on-paper cast are often left with little to do, but Bullhead alumni Schoenaerts is great as scenery-chewing maniac, while Rapace gives a suitably enigmatic performance as she continues to carve a niche for herself in Hollywood. The real standout though, is Tom Hardy. His ability to hide intent in subtle body language is incredible to see and when he’s on screen you can’t look away.
Really beyond the paper-thin narrative, his one-man exhibition of subtlety, controlled aggression and hidden agendas show just how versatile he is. In fact there are so few actors working today with a better grasp on character depth and range.
Roskam is lucky to have an actor of such quality on the payroll to keep the action ticking over, and to elevate a frankly disappointing and thoroughly underwhelming film to something more bearable. But what a complete waste of Gandoflini who plays exactly to type in what will be remembered as his last performance. Hopefully we’ll see more of Roskam in the future, but based on the evidence in The Drop he’ll need a tighter script to better present his talent.