The Drop is a damn good crime thriller

Europeans do their best Brooklyn accents in this otherwise gripping Dennis Lehane adaptation.


Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace

It might not have been the best move to ask a bunch of Europeans to play a bunch of New Yorkers. But if you can ignore Noomi Rapace’s vaguely Scandinavian take on a Brooklyn accent, you’ll find that The Drop is actually a pretty damn good crime thriller, filled with grit, violence and a sweet-ass twist.

The story focuses on Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy), a friendly bartender who works for his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini). The bar in question serves as a “drop bar,” a place where dirty money is deposited and collected at closing time. One night the bar is robbed, leaving Bob and Marv to find the money, lest they feel the wrath of the ruthless Chechen mafia boss who owns the establishment. Meanwhile, Bob’s personal life is turned upside down when he finds an abused puppy and meets Nadia (Noomi Rapace), who opts to help him raise the dog. Suddenly, a menacing figure with a reputation for violence named Eric (Matthias Schoenaerts) takes a very keen interest in Bob’s newly acquired pet.

The second feature film from Belgian director Michaël R. Roskam, whose debut Bullhead received a plethora of awards in Europe and an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012, The Drop finds Roskam once again exploring a darkly vivid atmosphere, this time stemming from the pen of Dennis Lehane (whose novels have served as the basis for many films, including Gone Baby Gone and Mystic River). Acts of violence are sparse but gut-wrenching — it’s the constant threat of violence, the expectation that someone’s about to die a brutal death any second that creates the tension that drives the narrative. Despite the weird accents, Tom Hardy and Matthias Schoenaerts deliver stellar performances. Schoenaerts, a relative unknown in North America, is particularly strong here, proving that his powerful work in Bullhead was no fluke.

However, to say that the film is a simple crime thriller would be doing it an injustice. As in Bullhead, the gritty underworld portrayed in The Drop is more of a vessel to explore themes like pride and emasculation. While Bob is just trying to make his way in the world (he insists he’s not “one of those hard guys” despite who he works for), he’s constantly being tripped up by men who care mostly about their reputation in the neighbourhood.  Whether it’s his cousin Marv’s anger at being pushed out of his own business or the constant threatening presence of Eric, the obsession with being the territorial “tough guy” is always at odds with his seemingly innocent and gentle nature. ■

 The Drop is in theatres now