The Drop (dir. Michael Roskam)

with Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini, Noomi Rapace.

Tom Hardy

A drop is a system of money laundering where the mob deposits bundles of cash in a designated bar which has a special safe for the purpose. Later, the deposit will be withdrawn. It is not clear what kind of protection the bar gets for its service, but the relationship is clear. The bar needs the mob, and the mob needs the bar. Cousin Marv’s Bar in Brooklyn is such a place. On big game nights, like Super Bowl Sunday, when bars are crowded, the drop is bigger than usual, and the story of the movie culminates on that night.

Gandolfini plays Marv, but due to a Chechen (not Chechnyans his cousin Bob points out but Chechen) takeover ten years ago, he is no longer the owner. A couple of thugs break in one night and steal the night’s receipts. Soon the Chechens  pay a call to find out how quickly they can get their money back. Something is fishy about the robbery. When the police investigate, and Bob, the bartender, describes one of the robbers as wearing a broken watch, Marv is upset that Bob would describe such a detail. Soon we learn why, but one of the pleasures of the movie is the way the layers of secrecy are removed, and we see the neighborhood, and everyone’s place in it revealed.

Bob is a lonely guy and the central character of the movie. He lives in the house that used to be occupied by his parents. One night coming back from the bar, he hears whimpering, and discovers a wounded pit bull puppy in a garbage can. When he goes to its rescue, a woman rushes out and wants to know what he is doing.   Nadia agrees to help Bob take care of the dog, but only reluctantly, and after fits and starts. It is clear that even though there is an attraction between the two, she is damaged, and not just from the scar on her neck. Everyone in the movie has something to hide.

Tom Hardy plays Bob with a worried brow and mannered Brooklyn accent. Sometimes his reactions are so slow and puzzled it seems that he is not 100% mentally competent. But as the movie unfolds, the audience learns that he is not so much slow as careful, having had to learn through experience how to protect himself. Gandolfini as Marv is sly, anxious, furtive. Noomi Rapace as Nadia does what she can with her few lines, and must express most of what she is feeling silently. John Ortiz as Detective Torres keeps turning up to investigate several things, not least of all the robbery of the bar, but more importantly, the disappearance of a young man back when the bar was still in the hands of Marv. Ortiz is just one of a very fine supporting cast.

I love the subplot about the local church, where both Bob and the police Detective Torres go for Mass on Sunday.  St. Dobbs is about to be merged with another church so that a luxury apartment building can be built. Apparently no corner of Brooklyn will be left untouched by gentrification. But some dirty deeds in this gritty crime drama just might go unpunished.

Dennis Lehane’s story “Animal Rescue” is the basis of the screenplay, and the dialogue is excellent, like a well written three act play. The movie opens with the image of a dirty puddle reflecting the Manhattan Bridge at night. This is not Park Slope with its gentrified houses, but somewhere in Brooklyn where the people who patronize Marv’s bar live in cramped lodgings, where the clutter of several generations never seems to get picked up.



About Patricia Markert

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