Monday, September 15, 2014

A Reel Review: THE DROP

The final film of the late-great James Gandolfini should make his long-time fans very happy. It is a film which throws the gruff actor back into the world of organized crime; a world which he gets to stomp around, swear, plot and scheme and make his presence known. Gandolfini being back in a crime-drama is a strong selling point for THE DROP, but it is far from the only one.
Marv (Gandolfini) and his cousin Bob (Tom Hardy) run a bar which serves as a drop-off point for money being funneled to Chechnyan mobsters. When the bar is robbed, everyone looks to cash-in…while Bob encounters Nadia (Noomi Rapace), a mysterious woman with a dark past.

THE DROP is a very complex film as it weaves a tangled web of mystery around the situation and its characters. Loyalties are constantly questioned, and motivations are played as close to the chest as possible. It is a feature-length poker-game, with all of the players bluffing and dealing their way out of the mystery and trying to see who will blink first. Set in modern-day Brooklyn, THE DROP is very gritty, dark and realistic. There is a great atmosphere of dread and tension being built throughout, and it is difficult to take your eyes away from the screen for a second.
Director Michael R. Roskam, who was nominated for an Oscar in 2012 for BULLHEAD (Best Foreign Language Film), keeps the plot moving forward briskly and never lets the script’s complexity bog things down. Characters are not only very well developed, but he finds ways to make everyone’s dark and questionable past-actions play into the plot. There are plenty of curveballs thrown here that the audience will never see coming, and the eventual playoff is worth every pitch.

Gandolfini is at his best here as the gruff, yet troubled bar-owner. His character is a wounded man of pride who didn’t quite make it to the upper-level mobster that he always aspired to, and this gives Gandolfini plenty of great material to work on and go deep with. He is matched in stride by Tom Hardy, who is an equally troubled and complex character. Hardy keeps the emotions of his character close with only peeks behind the curtain…and it is one of the most layered performances Hardy has ever done. Noomi Rapace is excellent despite being a little under-written, and the show is nearly stolen by Matthias Schoenaerts, who as Nadia’s ex-boyfriend comes into the tale looking to cash-in on the drop.

The finale is a whopper of a twist which not only works as shock-value, but brings all of the characters exactly where they deserve to be. Michael R. Roskam has weaved a perfect little crime-drama in THE DROP which has all the essential elements working right; plot, character, heart, and payoff. It makes for excellent cinema and a perfect curtain call to one of our finest actors.

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