I loathe writing reviews about movies like The Drop. Not because it isn’t good, but because it’s so good that it’s difficult to find much to say other than: dude go see this movie. Which I suppose is exactly what movie reviews are supposed to be on most days, but we usually end up with thousand word dissections of monstrosities or interesting conversation starters about good films. The damned solid film that has good plot and brilliant acting is difficult to start a deeper conversation about because all the joy is in the experience, and it’s not something that can be easily explicated.
In any case, we’ve got a story based on a Dennis Lehane novel called Animal Rescue in which a quiet but hulking bartender (Hardy) finds an abused dog abandoned in a trashcan, rescues said dog, meets Noomi Rapace in the process, and ends up in a slow and quiet romance of sorts. The “drop” of the movie’s title refers to the fact that the bar he works at, formerly owned by his uncle who still runs the place after loosing control of the neighborhood to Chechens a decade before, is a so-called drop bar. A randomly chosen place where all the criminal money gets stashed throughout the night.
Naturally, robberies and schemes within schemes begin to occur. And the plot is fine, a nice standard noirish sort of yarn, but it’s the drawing of the characters that really make the entire movie.
Tom Hardy should get some sort of acting award for his role in this movie. It’s completely unlike any role he’s played before, this mix of simple-minded but steady that kind of calls up memories of Of Mice and Men. He plays a character who is very quiet, who pauses before every statement, pondering as he speaks, as though he’s said the wrong thing so many times and been mocked for it, that he makes sure before he speaks. He coasts through life, swallowing down what comes, always with a pained look in his eye as if scared that someone is going to take away what he loves. But to say he has hidden depth isn’t quite accurate either. He has secrets, yes, but their revelations are brilliant in that they don’t change what the character was, but supplement it. They don’t wipe away the previous as a facade, but reinforce it despite the contrast.
And here I feel that I’m belaboring the point, trying to dance around without giving anything away, while of course implying that there is something to give away. We’re not talking M. Night or Usual Suspects twist shenanigans, just a unique character drawn with a perfectly subtle combination of writing and acting. Of course the film’s getting a bit more buzz because of it being the last movie with James Gandolfini in it, and he certainly holds up his end of the acting here. As does Rapace, and an assortment of character actors each nailing their roles. But it’s Tom Hardy’s show from start to finish.
Go see it.
And because this question will immediately come up in the comments (highlight for spoilers regarding the dog: The dog doesn’t die. But his safety is a point of tension throughout the movie..
Steven Lloyd Wilson is a hopeless romantic and the last scion of Norse warriors and the forbidden elder gods. His novel, ramblings, and assorted fictions coalesce at www.burningviolin.com. You can email him here and order his novel here.