It’s somehow fitting that James Gandolfini’s last role involves him playing a slightly more washed-up version of his most famous creation, Tony Soprano. It’s a weary but caustic ending to a career which was cut short far too soon, and shows the man’s dramatic chops as he manages to steal the show from some formidable opposition, including Tom Hardy holding a cute puppy.
Hardy plays Bob, a quiet guy who tends bar in the premises owned by his cousin Marv (Gandolfini) in deepest Brooklyn. This bar holds a secret – it’s a drop point where the mob’s money ends up from time to time. Marv resents the fact that Chechens are the hard guys here, and laments the good old days when he was part of the mafia, not their ATM deposit box. Bob is walking home from work one night when he finds the aforementioned abandoned pup in a bin belonging to Nadia (Noomi Rapace, very good with the relatively little she is given to do). Circumstances decree that he adopts the dog – and this is where an unfortunate series of events – connected or otherwise – start to creak into life. Gradually and inevitably, Bob’s life slides into crisis.
The Drop is a very decent film. The pacing is excellent – you know what is coming at some points, but you enjoy the journey of tying up the gradually interconnecting plot. Director Michaël R. Roskam does an excellent job of capturing Brooklyn, and the film is full of quietly impressive supporting performances – from the detective (John Ortiz) who is immediately on Bob’s case following an incident at the bar, to the suitably menacing mob boss (Michael Aronov) who is understandably pissed off when some of his funds go missing. These are no one-dimensional thugs – we spend time with them, understand them. But special mention has to be made of Matthias Schoenaerts as Eric Deeds, the local weirdo who trades off a murder he committed a while back. Schoenaerts is excellent and genuinely unsettling at times.
This will be remembered primarily as Gandolfini’s last performance, but it deserves more than that. The well-developed script and performances elevate this Dennis Lehane short story into a film that isn’t quite an Oscar contender, but is definitely worth a look regardless.