The Drop

Directed By: Michaël R. Roskam

Starring: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini, Matthias Schoenaerts, John Ortiz, Elizabeth Rodriguez, and Ann Dowd

We've lost a lot of cherished figures in the world of entertainment in the last couple of years.  For those actors who were still in the game at the time of their passing, I'm always impressed by how many completed projects they have in the pipeline.  Take Philip Seymour Hoffman for instance.  We've already seen him in God's Pocket and A Most Wanted Man this year, and we'll see him through next year in the final two chapters of The Hunger Games series.  Similarly, Robin Williams had completed four or five movies at the time of his suicide.  On this weekend, the last film from the late great thespian James Gandolfini has arrived, and it's the right way for Tony Soprano to go out.  He's back in the life of crime one more time in The Drop.

Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) and his Cousin Marv (Gandolfini) run a bar in the city.  At one time, they ran a crew and were respected.  However, they chose to give that life up when the Chechens arrived on the scene.  Ever since, their bar has become a drop location for dirty money related to the Chechens’ crime operations in the city.  After Bob and Marv shut down the place one night, a group of masked men enter the bar.  Wielding some heavy firepower, they demand the money from the cash register.  Looking to not get their blood spilt across the bar floor, Bob and Marv hand over the money, and the masked men escape.

The Chechens make it abundantly clear to Bob and Marv that they want their money back and that someone will pay for this.  Because the robbery is reported to the police, Detective Torres (John Ortiz) is assigned the case.  It just so happens that he goes to the same church as Bob.  During their conversation, Bob accidentally reveals a clue to the identity of the robbers, exacerbating tensions with the Chechens.  Any information the police have is a hindrance to their own illicit investigation of the crime.  Meanwhile, Bob discovers an abused pit bull pup in a trash can while walking home one night.  Trying to save the dog, he makes a connection with a woman named Nadia (Noomi Rapace) and requests her help.  After they tend to the dog's wounds, Bob names him Rocco and takes him in.  Little does he know that he is now getting embroiled with the psychotic Eric Deeds (Matthias Schoenaerts), the dog’s owner and Nadia’s former boyfriend.

By all rights, The Drop should have been just another crime thriller.  It's a low-key September arrival that has gotten very little promotion or attention in the world of cinema.  With smart direction and fierce performances from all involved, however, The Drop is something much more.  It's a damn good movie.  More importantly, it's the right swan song for James Gandolfini.  Don't get me wrong.  His romantic comedy with Julia Louis-Dreyfus Enough Said was phenomenally sweet, but the crime genre is home for Gandolfini.  If we've got to say goodbye to this treasured actor for the final time, there's no genre more fitting.

Director Michaël R. Roskam brings the rich narrative from screenwriter Dennis Lehane fully to life in The Drop.  Roskam crafts this dark, solemn film full of twists and turns.  It's a richly entertaining crime thriller marked by an ever-looming threat or sense of danger.  This is in thanks to some macabre cinematography, great sound editing, and smart pacing by Roskam and his crew.  Everything just clicks in The Drop.  It's one genuinely thrilling film.

James Gandolfini, Tom Hardy, and Noomi Rapace are terrific headliners for a film like this, all with plenty of experience in the genre.  For his part as Cousin Marv, Gandolfini gives a slippery performance.  The tough-talking, sarcastic middle age bartender he portrays is fueled by one thing and one thing alone, outdated pride.  Gandolfini thankfully gives us one last brooding, menacing turn on the big screen.  For his part as Bob, Hardy once again continues to showcase his versatility.  In his follow-up to Locke, Hardy gives us a caring introvert who loves Nadia and Rocco on the surface.  However, there's a latent darkness within him that creates an aura of mystery about his character.  Finally, we have Noomi Rapace as Nadia.  Sharing some tender scenes with Hardy, she brings a much-needed warmth and fragility to this otherwise cold film.

With great production value and strong performances from the cast, The Drop is the first great thriller of the year.  Welcome to the fall movie season ladies and gents.  The Drop gets a 0.03% rating.  Have some wine coolers with this one.  This is my kind of movie.