All the Talent in the World Can’t Save THE DROP – Movie Review
In writer Dennis Lehane and director Michael R. Roskam’s Brooklyn, people live in their parents’ old houses and hang out at dive bars, while unseen Chechen gangsters control everything from above. Dogs are beaten and discarded in trash cans. Women aren’t treated much better. Such is the world Bob Saginowski lives in.
Saginowski (Tom Hardy) tends bar at Cousin Marv’s, a bar run by his cousin…Marv (James Gandolfini). The bar is owned by Chechen gangsters, and sometimes serves as a money drop for their operations. Bob is quiet, goes about his business and gives free drinks to people mourning a lost friend. After the bar gets robbed at gunpoint one night, Bob soon finds himself in hot water with the Chechen mob, the cops and everybody else. His only source of comfort is his dog, Rocco, a pit bull he rescued from an abusive, psychotic owner.
What follows are scenes full of unintentional humor, hollow threats, boring monologues and all sorts of chicanery that pads the film’s 106-minute run time.
Lehane, who wrote the short story the film is based on and adapted it for the screen, is plagued by the same writing problems that made The Counselor a bore. That one was written by Pulitzer-Prize winning author Cormac McCarthy and may be the worst thing he’s ever done. The biggest issue with The Drop is the snail’s pace at which it moves along. Aside from tending bar and caring for Rocco with his friend Nadia (Noomi Rapace), Bob doesn’t do much of anything. The supporting characters don’t do much either, except thump their chests about what they “might” do to Bob, or someone else. Lehane, who did some writing for the legendary series The Wire, even throws in some lazy first line introductions, as if he’s worried the audience won’t otherwise understand the relationship. Lehane should know better.
Even with the deliberate pace, all of the actors brought their A-game to The Drop. Hardy is magnificent, portraying a nice, quiet guy who’s thick external shell belies something more violent underneath. The shame is it’s unclear if that’s the case with Bobor if he’s some sort of Lenny from Of Mice and Men until later in the film. James Gandolfini, in his last role, is classic Gandolfini, playing a Tony Soprano-esque guy who never made it big. Roskam, whose only other effort was the Academy Award nominated foreign film Bullhead, lingers on shots too long and seems too focused on the performances to worry about the lack of action. He’s a decent director, but The Drop would be considered slow, even if this were the ’70s.
For all of the talent involved in The Drop, in the end, they can’t save the film from itself. With overlong dialogue scenes, a clear lack of action and a protagonist that doesn’t do much of anything, the movie is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.