Netflix UK film review: The Drop
Ivan Radford | On 29, Mar 2015
Director: Michael R. Roskam
Cast: Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini, Noomi Rapace
Watch The Drop online in the UK: Netflix UK / iTunes Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Google Play
Interstellar. The Dark Knight Rises. Bronson. Tom Hardy has swiftly established himself as an impressively versatile – and manly – actor. So when he turns up in a gangster drama called The Drop, you may expect him to bring the macho swagger of his butch CV with him. What you get, though, is something very different.
Hardy plays Bob, a barman who works in Boston, where the local mob use his place as a drop, a location to hide cash and pick it up later. The joint is owned by Cousin Marv (James Gandolfini), who used to be somebody in the town’s crime ring. Now, though, times have changed and the Chechens are in charge.
Dennis Lehane’s script – shot with a cool intensity by Michaël R. Roskam – hangs its head low with a vaguely melancholic air; a downbeat vibe that recalls On the Waterfront. It’s a good fit for Hardy’s heavy shoulders. He walks bunched up like a muscly clam, with a quiet presence that recalls Marlon Brando.
One day, his walk leads him to a puppy in a trash can: a pit bull, abused and abandoned by its owner. At the same time, he’s stumbled on by Nadia (Noomi Rapace), who agrees to look after the dog on a temporary basis. Their relationship will feel familiar to genre fans, but it’s partly because the couple’s chemistry gives a well-worn quality to their exchanges, as each loner finds comfort in the other’s company. There is promise, too, of a life away from the gangster grit.
For Marv, though, that hope has long gone. The late Gandolfini steals every scene he’s in with his downtrodden sighs – no mean feat, given the quality of every cast member on set. Marv is a polar opposite to the sharp Detective Torres (John Ortiz), who hounds Hardy’s pint-puller over past murders and fresh leads. Meanwhile, Nadia’s fledgling romance inevitably incurs the anger of her ex – the wonderfully named Eric Deeds (Matthias Schoenaerts) – which seems to seal the fate of these souls in a purgatory of armed robberies and shootings.
The web of loyalty, theft and symbolic dog-walking that unfolds is immediately engrossing, not just because of the complex events, but because of the way the characters react to them. The ensemble is so believable they even sell a final act that, in other hands, might have descended into silliness. And, in the middle of it all, sits Bob, a guy with a name that’s more Blackadder than Donnie Brasco. “Listen here pal, you can’t come walking into people’s lives,” he tells Eric. “That is life,” comes the retort. “People coming along when you’re not looking.” Finding another angle to the hard man you expect from the outset, Hardy is nothing less than magnetic. Even when you think you’ve watched him do it all, you don’t see him coming.
The Drop is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.