In this taught, seductively understated thriller, Tom Hardy plays innocent lug Bob, bartender in the Brooklyn tavern of the slightly more sinister if no-more-brainy Cousin Marv (Gandolfini – in his final film role). The title refers to the process of criminal types depositing cash in various hostelries, of which Bob and Marv’s is one, for collection by the local mob. Of course, Bob and Marv are about to get knocked-off and find themselves in debt to the Chechen heavies who run the neighbourhood, but there’s also the former’s burgeoning relationship with troubled Nadia (Rapace), and the spectre of her vicious ex Eric (Schoenaerts), to contend with.
The Drop marks the feature screenwriting debut of novelist Dennis Lehane (Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River) and the English language debut of director Michaël R. Roskam (visceral Belgian drama Bullhead), and it’s an apt pairing. Their shared feel for damaged masculinity and wonderful evocation of place combine perfectly to produce a melancholic, gritty and thoughtful whole. Roskam deftly handles refreshingly unconventional narrative developments, complex characters and great performances (Hardy remains just the right side of caricature, Gandolfini is superb as the hulking but pathetic Marv) with a verité touch, while some lighter, almost absurd moments nicely punctuate the menace. It might be small, but it punches well above its weight.