The Drop Review
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A number of author Dennis Lehane’s gritty crime dramas have been adapted into noteworthy films—including Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River and Ben Affleck’s Gone Baby Gone. For The Drop, the novelist tries his hand at screenwriting, adapting his own short story, “Animal Rescue,” into yet another quietly suspenseful film.

The Drop stars Tom Hardy as Bob Saginowski, the mild-mannered bartender at a small Brooklyn bar run by his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini). Cousin Marv’s is known as a “drop bar”—one of several bars used to filter money collected by Chechen mobsters. On one of their drop nights, a couple of guys rob the bar, running off with $5,000 in mob money. And as the police investigate the robbery, they dredge up another unsolved case that threatens to throw off the neighborhood’s careful balance.

  
 
Tom Hardy is probably best known for his larger-than-life tough-guy roles—like creepy villain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises or ultra-violent prisoner Charles Bronson in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson. As Bob Saginowski, however, he displays a kind of sweetness and gentleness that many fans might not expect (unless they’ve seen him in films like 2012’s Lawless). Bob is a quiet loner who goes to Mass in the morning and works the bar each night, buying drinks for grieving neighbors and taking pity on poor old women. He minds his own business and does whatever needs to be done. And though the character’s awkward charm is sometimes a bit heavy-handed, he’s the kind of simple, straightforward guy that you can’t help but love.

The characters who surround Bob, meanwhile, are anything but simple. Cousin Marv is a former would-be player who suffers from a seriously battered ego while squirming under the constant scrutiny of ruthless gangsters. And when Bob adopts a battered puppy and befriends a lonely waitress with a troubled past (played by Noomi Rapace), he attracts the unwanted attention of the neighborhood psycho.

There’s definitely a lot at play here: new crimes, old mysteries, threats, power plays, and unsteady alliances. But it’s generally handled in low-spoken back-alley conversations. Like Lehane’s other adaptations, it’s tense and talky, slowly building in suspense until it finally erupts. The story isn’t developed as well as some of his earlier films. It isn’t quite as gripping or as powerful—and its tendency to focus on insignificant details often makes it quite clear that it was adapted from a short story instead of a full-length novel (and, if you're interested, you can read the full story). But Lehane’s knack for gritty drama and Hardy’s soft-spoken strength still make for a satisfying experience.

The Drop probably won’t be remembered as one of Lehane’s best adaptations—because it doesn’t come together quite as well as some of the others. But the tense story and solid performances make it a quietly captivating crime drama—a decent pick during a slow time of the movie-going year.


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