The Drop, directed by Michael R. Roskam and written by Dennis Lehane, is a brazen film and James Gandolfini’s last acting credit. The simple yet extremely well done crime drama focuses on the Chechen-run New York money-laundering business. Any bar in Brooklyn can be randomly selected by the Chechens to be the “drop” bar of the night where all of the money in Brooklyn comes to be collected by the mob. Marv (Gandolfini) owns a bar in Brooklyn that is selected to be the “drop,” but some thugs receive word of this and decide to rob the bar run by Marv and his cousin Bob (Tom Hardy). The film follows Bob as he investigates who robbed the bar while trying to dodge a crazed and lethal ex-boyfriend of his newfound romance, the recovering addict Nadia (Noomi Rapace).
Moviegoers tend to do genre analyses and compare each new film to the best of that genre. For crime dramas, each film is compared in the light of The Godfather. One might consider the film a type of epic, with a “war” between five families and a plot that spans continents. The Drop is nearly the exact opposite. It is about one bar in a tiny corner of Brooklyn. The whole film takes place in five or six locations and still is enthralling. The director of photography knows when to accentuate different cinematographic aspects of each locale to keep the film aesthetically fresh.
Gandolfini acted in no lesser way than one would expect of the great Sopranos star, but Hardy gave the best performance in the film and possibly his career. Hardy can be too cool, as in his Inception performance, but this Hardy was of a different caliber. He plays a simple and seemingly likeable bartender due to his sympathy for the defenseless, which causes him to adopt a beaten pit bull that was left in a trashcan. There is an air of mystique that one might quickly ignore and just attribute it to a working-class man who very rarely leaves the city, however. His acting is nothing less than dynamite, and the full force of his character, like dynamite, is made apparent at once in the thrilling finale. No matter how amazingly written and acted Hardy’s character might be, though, the film ultimately falls off the cliff due to its ending.
The end of a movie is arguably the most important part of the beginning-middle-end trinity, the storytelling arc that has been floated throughout western consciousness since the age of Aristotle. An ending to a great movie needs to meet certain criteria. First, the ending of the film has to have a resolution to the dilemma that arose in the first act or beginning of the film. Second, a great film will have an unexpected twist, and the best twists are those in which a twist is not expected at the end. The Drop adheres to both of the criteria. There is also a hypothetical list of what not to do in crafting an ending, which includes writing an ending that comes out of left field while having characters act in a way in which no human being would under any circumstances. Sadly, The Drop also satisfies these criteria. At the end of the film, we learn a shocking secret about Bob. Nadia, despite the knowledge of this secret and Bob’s sudden and extremely violent outburst, is still willing to be with him. Her reaction is not that compatible with that of a recovering junkie who knows the tribulations that come with an abusive boyfriend. The film suffers from having both very intimate knowledge of humanity and having almost no knowledge of it whatsoever. Despite the film’s ending, The Drop is one of this year’s best crime dramas and should be on everyone’s (pre-) Oscar-season list.
Featured Image Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures