Review of The Drop, Directed by Michael Roskam
Let me say up front, this movie was horrible. I’ll set up the background story then tell you why. Cousin Marv (James Gandolfini) and Bob (Tom Hardy) work at a bar in Brooklyn, a bar that Cousin Marv used to own. In fact, the bar is called Cousin Marv’s Bar. Ownership is past tense because the Chechens moved into town and Marv “flinched.” The bar is one of many “drop” spots for mafia-related money. So Marv is a retired boss and Bob is an average joe-schmo who bartends. The actual story begins a few evenings after Christmas when two masked individuals rob the drop money.
The name of the movie is The Drop, but the short story it’s based on is Animal Rescue. Animal. Rescue. I’ve not read the short story, but the title tells you a lot about what kind of gangster movie to expect. A very odd one. And don’t worry, there is in fact an animal involved–a very cute pitbull named Rocco that Bob picks up in the trash. A surprising amount of the story revolves around Rocco. Rocco is the reason why Bob meets his love interest Nadia (Noomie Rapace). It’s the reason why Bob falls into trouble with Eric Deeds (Matthias Shoenaerts), Rocco’s original owner and a psycopath, literally. And Bob is willing to go to extreme lengths, including life threatening situations, to keep and protect Rocco. But actually this isn’t the main plot of The Drop, though you would think it is, the amount of time spent on the puppy.
No, the main driver of the story is that (small spoiler alert, but a spoiler revealed early on in the movie) Marv wants to get some cash by hitting his own bar. Now, this is where the film actually speaks to the audience in a meaningful way. The setting is in Marv’s basement and he’s speaking with Bob, who’s able to get him to confess what’s really eating at him. Marv is a classic case of nostalgia for former glory. People used to sit up when he entered the room. He elicited respect. We sympathize with him to a point, but the pettiness of it all comes crowding in when he brings up the stool. Bob lets an elderly woman sit on a stool at the end of the bar and continues to let her put drinks on an ever-lengthening tab. The offense? That used to be Marv’s stool. His spot. And that is the culmination of his complaint.
It seems to me that The Drop is all about small things overestimated as big things. Rocco is a dog that Bob has only known for a couple weeks at most. The Chechen mobster wants the $5,000 stolen from him (sure, $5,000 is a lot of money, but worth death threats?). And the stool! And perhaps that’s the problem with The Drop. It’s a movie about small things that’s pretending to be about a story worth telling. The dreary storyline, unexceptional acting (they weren’t given much to work with), and choppy pacing ensures that The Drop fails to impress.