The Drop is both a simmering crime drama and a sombre, low-key story about damaged people trying to repair their lives. Set in the working-class neighbourhoods of Brooklyn, it revolves around local bartender Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy), a good-natured loner who works in a place that occasionally serves as a drop point for the mobs dirty money.
The establishment in question is ran by his cousin, a former tough guy named Marv (James Gandolfini), but it is owned by a crew of ruthless Chechen gangsters who took control several years ago. One night, the bar is robbed by a couple of masked gunmen, and the Chechens make it clear that there will be repercussions if Bob and Marv don’t recover the stolen money.
What follows is moody and absorbing, with director Michaël R. Roskam crafting a blue-collar crime thriller that is dotted with tense encounters and grisly moments. On top of this, the Belgian filmmaker spends more time than you might expect on a few character-based subplots, as Bob forms a relationship with a local waitress (Noomi Rapace) while training an adorable pit-bull puppy. The end result might be too much of a slow burn for certain viewers, but the film has some terrific dialogue – courtesy of screenwriter Dennis Lehane – and there’s no doubting the strength of the performances.
Hardy is reliably engaging as the slightly dim-witted barman – a character who can’t help but remind you of Rocky – and Matthias Schoenaerts provides a menacing screen presence as Rapace’s volatile ex-boyfriend. Gandolfini, meanwhile, is quietly compelling as the resentful Marv, bringing effortless quality to a role that fits him like a glove. The Drop marks Gandolfini’s final big-screen appearance, of course, and as swan songs go it’s a fairly satisfying one.