The Drop‘s main selling point is its star Tom Hardy. Over the last few years Hardy has easily passed between big budget blockbuster flicks (Mad Max: Fury Road, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises), tighter dramas (Locke, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), and everything in between, even making time for a few episodes of Peaky Blinders (His work in that show earned him an Academy Award Nomination for Best Beard). Bradley Cooper has walked the same path but without the sheer output Hardy has managed.
Hardy’s shy, almost bumbling performance in The Drop is as distinct from the frantic animosity he brought to Mad Max as that performance is to his suave confidence in Inception. Hardy plays bartender Bob Saginowski who becomes increasingly caught up in dealings out of his control. The film’s action begins with a robbery at the bar and follows Saginowski and his boss Marv (played by James Gandolfini) as they balance tracking down the money and keeping the bar’s real owners happy. Prior to the movie’s events, Marv turned over possession of the bar to the criminal underground who use is as one of many “Drop Bars” around the city where dirty money is shuffled every night. As things get more and more complicated, the characters around Saginowski seem to overestimate his understanding of what’s happening and he repeatedly gives off an awkward vibe.
The film provides one of the more satisfying finales of any I have seen recently. Through the first two-thirds of the movie, things play out a bit predictably and the movie doesn’t quite live up to its potential despite capable performances by Hardy, Gandolfini, and Noomi Rapace. It feels like a composite of Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead and The Town with a bit of John Wick mixed in for good measure. The movie may have benefited with a few less plot lines or characters. For example, John Ortiz’s police officer character doesn’t add much to the overall plot other than furthering the feeling of mystery. He could be excised without much change to the overall structure. But the ending shakes off this predictability and the clichés of the genre. I’m torn with my reaction to the finale. The course of the film right up to the finales makes the ending so much more satisfying. But at the same time, given an ending that works so well, I wish the rest of the movie could satisfy in the same way.
Bottom-line: A well-acted, well-conceived film that maybe plays dumb a little too long for its own good.