Michaël R. Roskam’s second feature film is a broody and simplistic tale that revolves around one bar and two men. ‘Cousin Marv’s’ is a humble bar in the heart of Brooklyn which is often used by local tyrants and mobsters as a drop-off point for their criminal earnings. Whenever their bar is chosen, previous owner Marv, and bartender Bob, have only two jobs; to discretely drop all deposits into the company’s safe and then to swiftly deal it back out to its owners the next day. When they are held up at gun point by two masked thieves, the cousins are suddenly out $5000 and it isn’t long before shady men come looking for what they’re owed. What initially seems to simply be an inconvenient robbery quickly develops into something much more twisted and complicated. Bartender Bob soon finds himself trapped in a vicious scenario where serious threats constantly come knocking along with a few ghosts. In a world where there is nobody to trust, Bob must do what he can to settle the bar’s debts whilst also trying to protect his loved ones, his recently rescued puppy and a waitress he’s starting to fall for. Roskam uses The Drop to paint a frosty image of contemporary Brooklyn – filled with broken homes, beaten babes, bold bruises and bleak past lives. The Drop harks back to some of the great film noir movies. It doesn’t bring anything revolutionary or particularly refreshing to the table but its just good film making. The Drop is part of an obvious trend of movies that 2014 has provided us with. Almost all of the best films I’ve seen this year have shared a grizzly desire for revenge amongst quiet and calm protagonists. Blue Ruin, Cold in July, Calvary and Joe are all similar to The Drop with the tension and angst that bubbles below the surfaces of all these films’ characters. This is a trend I thoroughly embrace when it results in a string of creepy thrillers that are all simple, sturdy and suspenseful.
Tom Hardy is one of current cinema’s most versatile and fascinating presences. His choice in projects is vast, unpredictable and diverse. As a result his portfolio boasts an array of American and British movies that are extreme in style, story and character. He gives a confident performance as Bob in The Drop, demonstrating that he can reign himself in as well as letting himself go, on screen. Even with all of his stark masculinity, he still isn’t the film’s most powerful male presence. In his final role, John Gandolfini towers over the rest of the cast giving a performance that is masterful and meditative and contains real spark and emotion. Noomi Rapace, arguably as diverse as Hardy, also manages to bring a subtlety we haven’t seen before. Her chemistry with Hardy doesn’t appear forced. The film’s excellent script along with the actors’ solid performances bring these characters together in a sincere and fragile way. We long for their unity as we long for the pit bull puppy’s safety. These are really well developed characters who convince us to believe in them. The Drop is slick and stylish. It knows not to drag anything out. It is over before its begun and everything builds to a tense final clash in the middle of ‘Cousin Marv’s’. The Drop is a great example of the trend it is a part of. This is just a really great film which is all the more enjoyable because of its effortlessness and self-confidence.
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