Starring Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Mad Max Fury Road,) James Gandolfini (The Sopranos,) and Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,) 2014’s The Drop is an intelligent crime drama and a remarkable showcase of Tom Hardy’s talents. The titular ‘drop’ refers to the rota system operated by Brooklyn gangsters for depositing and laundering their money through bars, one of the bars in question belongs to ex-gangster ‘Cousin Marv’ (Gandolfini,) and is the work-place of his cousin, Bob, played by Tom Hardy. The Drop was to be Gandolfini’s final feature film and while it is perhaps a little under-stated the film is one of genuine, un-deniable quality and as a result, not a bad way to sign off. The Drop doesn’t carve a new niche in the crime-drama genre, but it is showing the rest how it’s done.
Tom Hardy’s character, Bob, is essentially the film’s focal point and the role displays a different side of Hardy. In much of the film, Bob isn’t the confident, commanding character that Hardy is usually cast as. This, twinned with the fact that Hardy manages a passable American accent through-out, stands as testament to his acting prowess and seeing him play a less confident man is immensely impressive. All-round though, Bob feels like a previously un-seen side of Hardy’s repertoire and seeing The Drop will, for any audience, instil a new level of confidence in his talents. James Gandolfini also performs well and this final feature appearance as bitter, hard-nosed bar owner Marv is simple, but highly effective.
De Niro had Raging Bull and The Drop could perhaps be Tom Hardy’s equivalent.
The film keeps a steady pace but is well written enough that this doesn’t grind with the viewer, instead a palpable sense of anticipation builds as more and more threads of the plot are revealed, all in the build up to a remarkably tense climax. Bob’s discovery of a discarded and injured Pitbull Terrier puppy, in the bin outside Nadia’s (Noomi Rapace,) house makes for an interesting sub-plot. Pressure builds as the dog’s deeply sinister old owner turns up and alongside this pressure, Bob and Nadia’s relationship grows as they bond over the dog. Strangely enough Rocco, (the dog in question,) becomes almost central to the plot, but it happens in a subtle, well written way, tying cleverly into the main thread of the film’s story.
The film’s fantastic management of its arguably slow pace is part of what marks out its quality. Many films would have been (and indeed, have been,) hobbled by such a lack of action in the early scenes but The Drop carries it off expertly and feels all the more immersive for it. This pacing creates a sense of increased realism which makes the film’s action all the more impactful.
Want more on Tom Hardy? Read our review of Mad Max Fury Road here.
The Drop’s cleverly crafted inter-twining plot lines and its fantastic cast, writing and pacing, really set it apart from similar crime dramas of recent years. While the film’s understated nature did improve it cinematically, it also made it much less talked about, which is unfortunate given the film’s quality. The lasting appeal here though is in the way it showcases Tom Hardy’s talents. He’s always been good, he’s always had quality and depth, but this is the entry in his filmography that really shows range in his ability and many argue range is the mark or a truly great actor. De Niro had Raging Bull and The Drop could perhaps be Tom Hardy’s equivalent declaration, a meaningful departure from a series of similar roles displaying true star quality.
By George Storr