Being a big fan of author Dennis Lehane’s stories or novels should make for an exciting weekend when a new one hits theaters. Considering there have only been three before — Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, and Shutter Island — it’s not many to choose from. But at least they are all really good — with Ben Affleck’s GBG arguably the best. And while I haven’t read the short story The Drop is based on (Animal Rescue), I’m sure it’s better than the movie. As it is, director Michaël R. Roskam suffers from the sophomore-slump with The Drop, even with stars Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, and the great late James Gandolfini in tow, and Lehane writing the screenplay. Maybe he should leave adaptations to someone not as close to the source material.
Bob (Hardy) tends bar at Cousin Marv’s Bar for his cousin Marv (Gandolfini), which is part of the underworld money exchange with Brooklyn bars play the titular locations. One afternoon, Bob passes by a house and hears the sound of a crying animal in a garbage can. Inside, he finds a beaten pitbull pup outside the home of Nadia (Rapace). Eventually, Nadia convinces Bob to take the puppy as his own causing Eric Deeds (Matthias Schoenaerts) — who claims to be the dog’s original owner, and who may or may not have killed an old friend — to start stalking Bob. Meanwhile, a robbery at Marv’s Bar winds up with $5,000 of Chechen Mafia money missing and they want it back. Eventually, everyone must come to turns with their inner demons and ulterior motives.
Lehane definitely knows how to write a slow burn of a screenplay, it’s just too bad director Roskam doesn’t know how to pace one. Let alone that his tone is all over the map. Are we watching a gritty thriller, a love story? Here, the two mix like oil and vinegar, and it makes for a deadly dull concoction. Hardy plays Bob appropriately awkward, but Rapace is wasted as the love interest with a sordid past. If there was any reason to see The Drop, it’s to see Gandolfini up on the big screen. His passing came far too soon, but he’s the true shining performance. Had the film focused more on Cousin Marv and skipped the loosely faith-based personal issues of Bob and Nadia in the background, the film would have been as tense as a good thriller should be.
Unfortunately for The Drop, Fox Searchlight’s September release shows the studio is going along with the title and dropping it in one of the year’s notorious Hollywood dump months. No one will see this until it hits video. And it actually might play better when you can sit through it on the comfort of your own couch.
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