Despite a stellar cast, The Drop lives up to its name and falls short of greatness.
The Drop is the second feature-length project from Belgian director Michael R. Roskam. Roskam’s first film from 2011, Bullhead, was fantastic and received numerous acclaims, even getting a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. Unfortunately The Drop doesn’t do justice as a sophomore effort, and first English language film, for such a talented director.
Based on the short story Animal Rescue by Dennie Lehane, and coming from his screenplay as well, The Drop tells the story of Bob Saginowski (played by Tom Hardy), a local New York bartender who works at what is known as a drop bar – a randomly selected venue that occasionally becomes the temporary holding zone for money belonging to Chechen gangsters. A string of events begin to alter Bob’s life – including a robbery, a new love interest, and adopting a stray pit bull – that start to weave together and slowly tell the full story.
While Hardy plays the lead, he’s closely followed by James Gandolfini and Noomi Rapace. Gandolfini plays Cousin Marv, the bar’s manager and former owner, and is the last feature film role for Gandolfini after his untimely death last year. Rapace plays a local woman who assists Hardy’s character as he becomes the owner of a dog for the first time. Both deliver great performances, and gain additional support for John Ortiz, Matthias Schoenaerts (who starred in Bullhead), and James Frecheville.
While the acting is top notch, I found the pacing and execution of the final product to be lacking. It’s definitely a slow burn, and I usually am a total sucker for those types of films – the creeping intrigue gets under my skin and I love feeling on the edge of my seat as it all comes to a climax. In the case of The Drop, I felt that way for the first third to half of the film, and then it just lost me. A lot of the reveals seems to occur far too soon, so much of the second half of the film feels unnecessary. I started to get really bored. The payoff and final scenes are ultimately fantastic, but given the stall occurring during the previous 30-45 minutes, it seems a little abrupt.
It makes sense that this came from a short story. Cutting this film by around 15-20 would have helped greatly, or even just a short film version would’ve been the best way to get the story across.
In the end The Drop is by no means a bad movie. It has great acting, and a great sense of tone that gets bogged down by a mostly unimportant second half. Still, given the drought of films released lately, this might be your best bet to see this weekend.