A film about one man and his dog, The Drop will appeal to anyone keen to watch Tom Hardy cuddling a puppy for two hours. More so, this film will be remembered as the final performance from the late James Gandolfini before he tragically died of heart attack in 2013.
Set in the grim, bleak surroundings of working-class Brooklyn, the narrative revolves around the fictional notion of ‘the drop’: a covert scheme whereby each night a certain bar is chosen as a drop point for criminal money, before being funnelled to local gangsters. Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) runs one such bar under the ownership of ex-gangster Cousin Marv (Gandolfini), but when he unwittingly becomes the victim of a robbery he is drawn into the criminal underworld.
Along the way he rescues an abused pit bull puppy from a trashcan and, together with his emotionally damaged neighbour Nadia (Noomi Rapace) they nurse him back to health. A relationship soon develops between them that becomes strained once the dog’s real owner returns. Just as Bob rescues the puppy, the puppy is his own escape route from a life of crime.
In a distrusting and dreary neighbourhood, Bob is undoubtedly the good guy. We first witness him handing out free drinks to console some mourning customers and he frequently visits the local church. He is generous and benevolent, the local saint. He even names his pooch Rocco after the patron saint of dogs. Yet however righteous he may be, he remains associated with criminals and hides a dark past. Hardy gives a nuanced performance that balances the endearing and dangerous sides of the character, along with a clipped vocal. Rapace and Gandolfini are also well cast in their respective roles.
The Drop is a slow building crime thriller, with a slightly loose narrative that remains gripping. It might not do anything out of the ordinary, but the excellent performances ensure the film does just enough to keep us entertained.
Watch: The Drop screens at the London Film Festival, with general release in the UK on 14th November.