Director: Michael R. Roskam
Cast: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Matthias Schoenaerts, John Ortiz and James Gandolfini
Plot: Bob (Hardy) is a quiet guy who uses his cousin’s bar to hide money for the local mob. However, as his cousin gets overly ambitious and Bob’s discovers of a beaten dog, life gets even more complicated.
The Drop is a little dull. Actually it is incredibly dull. The problem is that the writers, apparently pulled straight from The Wire, the kind of show that lives and breathes this kind of story, have far too much faith in their plot. They concoct a fairly interesting crime thriller story and seem to have the idea that this is enough to make a good movie. As a result, we get a very brutally honest movie. For example, it opens with Tom Hardy summarising what a Drop is – a random bar that gets selected on an important night for all of the local Chechen mob’s money to get stashed at for 24 hours. Almost like a temporary bank. Tom Hardy literally stands there and tells us this. There is no clever exposition trick to get this information across – we are literally handed the facts, as if the film needs a companion leaflet with reading material to get us up to speed before the story starts. Then we simply wade through the story, the director simply dropping us off and letting us find our own way through the movie. The thing is that the Drop doesn’t treat itself like a crime mystery thriller. Sure, it has a fairly hidden mystery tucked away in the film, but it is so hidden that you need to be told it is there to realise that there is some sort of twist waiting for us on the other side. Without the promise of an interesting reveal, as the Drop walks us through Tom Hardy’s quiet Bob meeting Nadia, when he finds an abandoned dog in her garden, the audience not entirely sure what this movie’s hook is. The characters do their job well enough, but the story cannot escape this sense of pointlessness. It is almost as if the fact it is in the crime genre means that something will happen by the end of it worth our while, but no one in the making of this movie seems in any rush to confirm this.
The ending is a mixed bag. Hands up, it was quite a good one. It isn’t really anything too fancy, but by the time you’ve made it to the other side of this plodding narrative, you are not expecting some massive set-piece to tie up the film. A neat reveal is brought into the open and the answer to the mystery no one knew we were taking part in is revealed. The reason I call it a mixed bag is that there are two ways you can take this ending. The first way and the more negative one is that the writers must have decided that this twist was enough to make watching the other hour and a half of this movie worth it. It is not. The ending had to be pretty clever and shocking if it was to make up for the slow build-up and while I had to admit that the Drop does surprise and show a fair bit of intelligence with its conclusion, it is nowhere near enough to make the rest of the movie excusable. But if I was to take something good away from it, I would turn to the second opinion you could walk away with. Once the ending reveal has settled and we hit the epilogue part of the film, an interesting question is raised about morality. Can a single moment where you give into the dark side forfeit your soul? Throughout the entire movie, Bob is stepped on and abused. He sticks to the side lines, letting almost every character push him around and control him, even Nadia to a certain point. Bob is the kind of lead hero where you want to shake him and get him to do something, anything to stop these bad things from happening to him and the ones he loves. However, we could argue that when he does take steps to stand up for himself, in a single moment, he loses everything. We see everything Bob stands for, everything he wants from his future, and arguably a lot of his past, slip away with one, brutal action. While The Drop is a pretty slow movie, this parting note does leave a fairly potent after-taste, suggesting that this film isn’t a total waste of time.
I think the Drop is destined to be a film that completes movie fans collections. I was drawn here by Tom Hardy, one of the more successful actors of our generation, and I think that is why a lot of people will take a chance on The Drop. The same goes for James Gandolfini. This was the last film he made before he died and for this reason alone, The Drop will find itself in many a movie collection. As much as I didn’t like the story-telling, the cast are superb, really making the film their own. This is Tom Hardy as you have never seen him before. When we picture the British actor, we think the strong, tough guy, either as the fearsome Bane or perhaps the more stereotypical British action hero, as he parodied in ‘This Means War’. When we see Bob for the first time, he is nothing like those memorable figures. He is stooped behind a bar, eyes fixed on the ground, so he doesn’t risk making eye contact with anyone and he is noticeably shorter than any of the other characters. Even Ivan Locke had more backbone than this guy. Throwing on a Boston accent that makes his voice unrecognisable (although by this point, does Hardy even have a recognisable voice?), The Drop is worth watching for anyone that wants further proof of how talented the actor is. The other showstopper here is Matthias Schoenaerts. He plays the villain of the piece, a bi-polar scumbag who the entire city is terrified of, because of his dark past. His motives are fairly random, another side where the Drop’s story lets itself down – he doesn’t really want any of the things he asks for, he just wants the satisfaction of making people give it to him. However, Schoenaerts takes this rote character and has a field day. He will threaten the other characters, but always keep this voice as if he is talking to a best friend. It is eerie and creepy, making the character the most unpredictable element in the show. Any other reason to watch the Drop? Well, the dog is pretty adorable. Perhaps just google some GIFs of Hardy and the puppy rather than renting this tame crime thriller.
Final Verdict: The Drop isn’t awful; just not very good either. It drifts along, but some decent performances aside, doesn’t really come to life until the final twenty minutes.