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The Drop (2014)

Small, unrecognized and, unfortunately, insufficiently advertised films with me almost, so they always have the best pass, much more important than some well-known titles that I have been waiting for all year. Such small films can often surprise, of course positively, and sometimes surprise me how much better they are than my expectations. This is exactly the case with this crime drama.

Bob Saginovski (Tom Hardy) is a retired 30-year-old from Brooklyn, otherwise a bartender in the cafe of his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini). The cafe once belonged to Marv, who was forced to sell it due to gambling debts, and is now owned by the Chechen mafia, which uses it for racketeering. One evening, returning from work, he saves an injured pit bull puppy from almost certain death. Then he meets the mysterious Nadia (Noomi Rapace) who persuades him to adopt a puppy named Rocco. After a few days, during his shift, the cafe is attacked by two masked robbers, which seems like a random act, but behind that there is a hidden plan that will be disastrous for some of the participants.

The film is an adaptation of a short story called Animal Rescue by the famous American writer Denis Leahyn, who, among other things, is the screenwriter for the films Shutter Island, Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone. This year, a novel of the same name was published, with deeper stories than in the film, which the writer extracted from this film. The film is the work of talented Belgian director Michaël Reynders, known for his excellent 2011 crime drama Rundskop (Bullhead). How to conclude his specialty are crime dramas, but with an emphasis on the psychological profile of the main character.

This project is a thoroughbred crime drama, with a minimum of mixing of other genres, which, in my opinion, only contributes to even greater quality of the film. It is made up of great dialogues and even better and more impressive monologues. The atmosphere of the film is mysterious, and at the same time in a strange way, calming, but with a constant dose of threat that something big will happen, that it will explode. However, it won’t be some fierce chase, action or shooter as you might expect, but it will be a great final twist that few could have predicted. That is the greatest charm of this film. Many compare it or draw parallels with some titles that would never have occurred to me like Pride and Glory or Mean Streets. In my impression, this film is a mixture of Killing Them Softly and Out of The Furnace, if we look at the atmosphere, the seriousness and the greatness of the actors in these films.

All the listed works have a lot in common, and the ease of telling the story, despite the serious subject matter, is the main thing in common. The seriousness in this crime drama does not turn into a gloomy atmosphere, as would be expected in similar works, but it remains at a very high level and the proof of that is the insufficiently shown warmth in the film, and there is plenty of room for that (dog, girl). Too bad, because I think a film with a little more elaborate love story would only gain in importance. Therefore, the pathos that would be expected in some scenes is not in the film, and that is a big plus, so I understand what the director wanted to achieve, but I still stand by the fact that warmth is almost as important as depth the psychology of the character he went to in this film.

In addition, what is best and what carries and holds this film high is Tom Hardy. His character is excellently written, even better elaborated, and masterfully acted. When we meet his character, he seems sympathetic, charming, a little quiet and withdrawn, a little mysterious. These are all positive aspects of his character that he shows during the eighty minutes of the film, while in the last fifteen minutes we see and get to know the real him. That ability to move from one positive and likeable character to a completely opposite character is really fascinating, that ease with which he does it. I think I bored everyone by writing hymns about his acting that was really never in question.

Another great character in the film is the director’s favorite, the great and talented Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts when we saw him in the lead role in the aforementioned Bullhead and in the 2012 romantic drama Rust and Bone with Marion Cotillard. His character in the film seems like a random guy, but he’s not, he’s here for a reason. He played his part very well, as well as Numi Rapas, who we know as Liset Salander from the Swedish Millennium trilogy, but I must point out that her acting is minimal in the film, as well as her minor character for the film itself, more by the way. It is simply underutilized, as is the last appearance of James Gandolfini. His character is well thought out, but he is vague and sloppy, and with this role he ingloriously ended his, prematurely interrupted, great career.

The Drop will certainly not attract a large audience, will not pick up the brightest laurels of critics, nor will it win any major awards, nor will it be remembered in recent film history as a timeless film achievement. That in no way diminishes its undeniable quality, and don’t stop that from watching this film, because it’s very worth it, if for no other reason, then because of Tom Hardy, the trump card he always got on the movie screen. An absolute recommendation to watch, especially for fans of the genre.