The Drop (2014)
Directed by Michael Roskam
When Boston-native Dennis Lehane wrote the novels “Shutter Island,” “Gone Baby Gone,” and “Mystic River,” I’m certain he had no idea they would be turned into movies directed by the likes of Scorsese, Affleck, and Eastwood. Or that “Shutter Island” would crack IMDb’s list of the 250 Greatest Movies of All-time. Or that “Mystic River” and “Gone Baby Gone” would receive Oscar nominations. Or that “Mystic River” would win two. Any writer would be happy to see his stories find big-screen success like that. But Lehane wanted more. He had dipped his toes into writing teleplays for “The Wire” and “Boardwalk Empire,” but he wanted to adapt his own work himself. So he did. Though it never received the critical success of the others, 2014’s “The Drop” (adapted by Lehane from his short story “Animal Rescue”) possesses the same smart and gritty entertainment value that made the others such huge hits.
In Brooklyn, too much money passes between drug dealers to handle it themselves. So they designate one bar every night to be the drop bar, where all of that money is handled and kept in a sizable safe until it can get into the right hands. One day, the drop bar is the one tended by Bobby (Tom Hardy) and his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini). But they get in over their heads when they’re held up at gunpoint and the money is taken. They don’t have the money, but that doesn’t mean they’re not expected to. Ruthless rough guy Eric Deeds (Matthias Schoenaerts) will do whatever it takes to get that money back, even if it means threatening his ex-girlfriend, Nadia (Noomi Rapace), who has been helping Bobby train his new dog. Until the end of the movie, you don’t know where allegiances lie or who’s working with whom. Lehane only reveals what he wants you to see. You’ll be annoyed at first, but you’ll thank him later.
Lehane’s script is cryptic – scryptic, if you will. You know less than the characters, which is always a frustrating position to be in. By the end of the film, you feel as though you hardly know anyone at all. Lehane isn’t the only one keeping information from you. Hardy and Gandolfini lie right to our faces. But we buy it because they’re so incredible. Gandolfini, in his last role before his early death, is everything he ever was on-screen. Intimidating but tender, dramatic but lovable. He’s brilliant. Tom Hardy sports a pretty convincing Brooklyn drawl like a poor man’s De Niro. He shows his versatility in this one.
“The Drop” is a slow-burning mystery classic. It’s smartly-written and convincingly-acted. It’s the gangster drama we deserve.
“The Drop” is on Blu-ray and DVD.