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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look50%
Average: 7.14%
Pretty Bad: 42.86%
Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 2 user ratings

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Drop, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Neighborhood Bullies"
2 stars

"The Drop" is one of those films that has so much going for it--promising source material, an interesting director and a gifted cast--that when it appears to be going off the rails early on, some viewers may find themselves inclined to believe that the problem is with them and that it will all become clear in a little while as long as they pay attention. I know that was the feeling that I had while watching it--long after the point I might have otherwise written it off under other circumstances, I was still hanging in there in the hopes that it would eventually pull itself together. Alas, that moment never happens and that viewers are left with is a bunch of good actors stuck in the middle of a middling crime story in which muddled drama is mixed together with "shocking" surprises that prove to be anything but.

Based on a short story by Dennis Lehane, the Boston-based author whose books have inspired such previous films as "Mystic River," "Gone Baby Gone" and "Shutter Island," the Brooklyn-based "The Drop" is set largely around Cousin Marv's a Brooklyn dive bar that retains its name even though former owner Marv (James Gandolfini) lost control of the place long ago to gangsters from Chechnya, where it is now one of many joints randomly selected to serve as a central depository for all the illegal concerns to drop their daily accumulated cash for pickup. Marv's most loyal employee--okay, his only apparent steady employee--is Bob (Tom Hardy), a soft-spoken man who seems just a little too good-hearted for his surroundings. He allows a local lush to run a tab that she can never possibly pay off, he attends church every day (though he makes it a point to decline taking communion) and when he happens upon a savagely beaten pit bull left in a garbage can, he rescues it from certain death with the help of neighbor Nadia (Noomi Rapce) and takes it in.

One night, the bar is robbed of about $5,000 and the Chechens inform Marv and Bob that they had better get it back and fast if they know what is good for them. Of course, as Marv points out, if they knew who took it, it would almost certainly mean that they were in on it somehow and that would land them in even hotter water. Nevertheless, the money eventually does turn up--with a particularly gruesome piece of interest tossed in for good measure--and the Chechens inform Marv that his bar will be used as the drop bar for Super Bowl Sunday, presumably on the basis that having just been robbed, the chances of the place getting knocked over again are infinitesimal. At the same time, neighborhood crazy Eric Deeds (Matthias Schoenaerts) suddenly turns up wherever Bob is and reveals that he has certain connections to both the dog and Nadia that he believes are worth a certain amount of compensation. Come Super Bowl Sunday, these various threads come together and without giving anything away, let me just say that the old adage about letting sleeping dogs lie is proven here to still have plenty of viability.

With the strong cast, a screenplay with Lehane adapting his own work and direction from Michael Roskam, the director of the extremely bleak and highly acclaimed Belgian film "Bullhead" making his English-language debut, "The Drop" has enough going for it going in to offer the promise of an intriguing film and it therefore hurts all the more when it turns out to be a mess throughout. Although Lehane's work has always tended to focus more on character and mood than of the machinations of the plot, there has to be at least some token effort to get from point A to point B and he has pretty much failed to do that here. Most of the characters are implausible (such as the police detective who spends more time obsessing with why Bob doesn't take communion than in doing any actual police work), many of the plot developments are too contrived to be believed (if you were planning an elaborate crime that required precision, careful timing and a certain degree of subtlety, would you immediately choose the most overtly crazy person in the neighborhood to serve as your point man or would you more sensibly pick anybody else?) and the big reveal that the whole thing is building towards is so unremarkable that once it is deployed, most viewers will find themselves thinking "Really--that's it?"

For his part, Roskam seems to be at a loss as to how to put this particular story across--he is unable to make the neighborhood feel like a living and breathing place and he puts forth the narrative in such a jumbled manner that I still remain hopelessly confused about certain key aspects of the story. As for the acting, "The Drop" features what I believe was the final screen performance by James Gandolfini and while it is a bittersweet joy to see him once again, the simple truth is that he is just okay at best and that this will not go down as one of his great acting turns. That said, he comes off much better than Schoenaerts, a frequent collaborator of Roskam's whose performance is so blatantly weird and twitchy throughout that he makes Vincent Gallo seem staid and even-handed by comparison. On the other hand, Noomi Rapace acquits herself nicely despite being stuck with a role that gives her virtually nothing of interest to do. Likewise, Tom Hardy is hardly challenged by his role either but his screen charisma is so undeniable that you can't take your eyes off of him no matter what is going on. (That said, if you want to see a truly mesmerizing Hardy performance from this year, you should rent his one-man show "Locke" as soon as you can.

If "The Drop" had been made with a cast and crew of unknowns, it still probably would not have amounted to much but its sins might have been a little more forgivable. However, with the level of talent involved here, for them to come up with something as uninspired like this will leave most audiences feeling deflated afterwards, more so than with an ordinary bad movie. Pretty much everyone involved here has done good and interesting work in the past and, with the sad exception of Gandolfini, they will continue to do good and interesting work in the future. To bad they couldn't pull it together long enough to do it in the present.

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originally posted: 09/13/14 00:50:07
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 London Film Festival For more in the 2014 London Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/13/17 morris campbell good crime film Hardy&Gandolfini are great 4 stars
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  12-Sep-2014 (R)
  DVD: 20-Jan-2015


  DVD: 20-Jan-2015

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