Set in a cold, dark Brooklyn, Michael Roskam’s gangster drama, The Drop, follows Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy), a lonely bartender of a “drop bar” used by a Chechen mobster to funnel money to local gangsters. When the bar is robbed of several thousand of the mob’s money, and Bob unwittingly gives an investigator more information than the mob and his cousin Marvin (James Gandolfini) are comfortable with, tensions rise and Bob is forced to become more involved in what goes on under the table than he’d like.
More than anything, The Drop thrives in subtleties. A slow-burning plot reveals itself through details in the expertly written dialogue, and if you’re not paying attention, these whispers of narrative will leave you behind without so much as a glance back. Yet, this also makes The Drop one of the most satisfying films of the year. Understated to a tee, the film communicates much of its story through its silent imagery, seemingly throw-away dialogue, and nuanced facial expressions, which for Hardy, who can say more with a blank face than any actor I can think of, the emphasis on the unsaid works beautifully. Like the drop bar itself, there is always much more going on beneath the surface. Early on in the movie, we’re introduced to the gentle-giant Bob when he finds an abused pit bull puppy in a trashcan outside the home of Nadia (Noomi Rapace), a defensive woman who gets involved with Bob when he asks her to teach him how to take care of it. Bob forms a close bond with the puppy and soon attracts the attention of the dog’s previous owner, a psychopath named Eric Deeds (Matthias Schoenaerts), who has more to do in the story than simply trying to retrieve his dog back.
While The Drop’s plot may be modest in scope compared to most in the gangster noir genre, the film provides richness through Hardy and Gandolfini’s superb acting, and the sheer level of character depth, which is impressive given that hardly any background information is given about the characters. Yet, that’s where The Drop succeeds so well, and where it pays off big time in the climax. It takes the little, unassuming details of a character’s quirks and paints landscapes with it, reminding us in the end that nothing about us is as inconsequential as it seems.