The Drop (Michaël R. Roskam, 2014)

Employed by a so-called “drop bar,” everyman Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) knows a thing or two about a thing or two in the local mob scene. Slyly remarking that he only slings the establishment’s booze, Bob’s role remains mysteriously self-restricted despite what he may or may not contribute in the grand scheme. Following the foolhardy robbery of his place of work, tensions mount as quickly as debts whilst truths are unveiled and trust among colleagues is compromised. From then on, allegiances remain questionable as a shady unstable character enters and threatens to further uproot Bob’s life in a way none of us can perceive.

Mistakenly marketed as typically mob-centric genre fare, The Drop‘s deliberate plotting and general strangeness brand it as more of an odd duck – one that tries a bit too hard but fails to fully break from the mold cast by assumed inspirations. While a mob presence is felt, seen and occasionally dominates certain situations, Lehane’s script rings rather humanistic as Hardy’s deceitfully mild-mannered Bob remains the primary focus. After plucking an abused puppy from a trash can, Bob’s life changes almost immediately as two individuals, of whom are linked in some mysterious capacity, enter and affect his life in different ways. It’s from here on that the narrative awkwardly blends familiarity with the unconventional as light is slowly but surely shed on our supposed protagonist’s shady past.

As tensions mount and time winds down for Bob and his on-the-outs Cousin Marv (James Gandolfini), the looming threats present don’t carry with them a sense of urgency that keeps things interesting. Even despite a smattering of twists and mandatory conflictual cruxes, involvement is often absent as performances – Hardy’s specifically – compliment Lehane’s dialogue that’s pervasive yet appealingly down-to-earth as the agreeably unique story unfolds. For the patient, what this ultimately presents is The Drop‘s possibly purposeful exploitation of our expectations, of which are abruptly uprooted as a rousing latter act reveal partially compensates for banality brought on by police procedural nonsense and the like.

As it stands tall among the normally stilted genre trappings it’s forced to embrace, The Drop‘s solace resides solely within a few key moments that happen to be benchmarked by the well-portrayed individuals at its core. It does a fine enough job leading us astray for unpredictability’s sake, however the road we’re led down is one of only intermittent engagement and quality. In summary, it all adds up to be one serviceable chunk of seedy intrigue – it’s just a shame that the intended whole isn’t greater than the sum of its parts.

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