A bar, a dog, a handful of criminals and the Super Bowl: what’s not to love?
When a bar is robbed, Bob Saginowski and his boss are subject to unwanted police attention that puts pressure on their dealings with local criminals. But only when he starts being followed and the crime boss adds more pressure to their agreement does Bob start to worry about his own safety.
The Drop marks an important milestone for long time crime novelist Dennis Lehane with this being his first sole contribution to the screenplay. Lehane has provided the novel for such films as Mystic River and Shutter Island, but The Drop is based on his short story Animal Rescue and both of these elements factor into the story’s simplicity. There are no flashbacks or big character back stories here, nor is there an elaborate twist or huge cast usually on display in a Lehane story. What does remain however is Lehane’s gritty and realistic character exchanges that deliver quite tense moments.
Director Michëal R. Roskam does well with the source material providing fun displays of affection between Bob, Nadia and Bob’s dog, while providing quiet displays of intimidation and violence. Bob is incessantly followed and harassed and the use of several domestic items such as an umbrella are used to underline this growing threat. The film barely includes any active violence but does include the practicality of dealing with the consequences of violence in a cold and removed manner. Wrapping a severed arm in cling film makes a lot of sense, right?
All in all The Drop plays out more like a character drama than a regular crime film, and with Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini and Noomi Rapace holding key roles it is impressively persuasive. Hardy plays Bob Saginowski, a character noticeably more timid and awkward than the characters he usually plays. He is the most developed character, he attends church, is inept at caring for dogs and has silent thoughts around a potential love interest, Nadia, however it is really his stand out character that underlines the others shortcomings. Not one character is let down by the actor or actress playing them, but Rapace’s character, Nadia, is first and foremost a vulnerable woman, while Gandolfini is a lazy and selfish boss. Characters seem far too simplistic however, and although the story is an interesting one, it could have developed into a short film rather than a feature.
This isn’t a waste of time by any stretch – the acting prowess and tension in certain scenes is hard to beat, but The Drop doesn’t deliver the elaborate powerful story that Lehane and everyone involved is capable of. Perhaps next time we’ll see what Lehane can really do.