After a few Dennis Lehane novels have been adapted to films a certain expectation has developed. “Gone Baby Gone”, “Mystic River”, and “Shutter Island” all have the crime elements, great dialogue, good stories and characters, and give you a few twists and turns before it’s all said and done.
“The Drop” which is the latest Lehane adaptation written for the screen by him and directed by Michaël R. Roskam is about a simple bartender Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) who along with his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini) run a “drop-bar” for the local mob. Since holding the money until it’s picked up is the limit of their involvement, when they are robbed, they don’t have the means to pay back the money or find the robbers themselves. Since neither of the men seem extremely worried, a lot of time is devoted to the B-storyline of Bob finding a beaten puppy in the trashcan. Here he meets Nadia (Noomi Rapace) a woman with a shady past.
Most of the film feels like a shorter crime version of “Rocky” with Hardy playing the mumbling simpleton of a guy. Don’t get me wrong, even with limited action and even less dialogue Hardy crushes it as he usually does. He certainly outshines the film for the most part. Rapace seems to be doing her best, and Gandolfini plays his role much like a ‘Tony Soprano’ that never was and is frustrated by it. Here in his final film performance, much like he did in most of his career he stays in the background but still remains a presence that will never be forgotten.
Unlike it doesn’t have the intense story or interesting characters, the dialogue feels familiar, and I understand that it’s meant to be a more condensed intimate film. I liked that we spent very little time with the mob, and the cops they were not important to the narrative, but maybe it would have benefited from a bit more time fleshing out and giving more substance to Rapace and Gandolfini’s characters. In the end “The Drop” while worth watching for Hardy alone, it still feels more like Lehane ‘lite’.
–Robert L. Castillo