This is the kind of gritty thriller they used to make in the 1990s, but is sorely lacking today.
The Drop stars Tom Hardy (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises), unshaven and with a thick Brooklyn drawl reminiscent of Rocky Balboa—although Rocky was an Italian American from Chicago and Bob Saginowski (Hardy's character) is a Polish American from New York. Their accents are equally muddy, although quite different.
This is no Rocky movie, however.
Rather, it is similar to the 1990s' Night Falls on Manhattan (Andy Garcia) and Internal Affairs (Richard Gere), where the thrills are plot-driven and not caused by car (or robot or alien) chases or explosions (of robots or aliens).
The film resuscitates the departed James Gandolfini, who plays Cousin Marv, in his big-screen swan song. Together, the cousins run a dive that serves as a money drop for the neighborhood's Eastern European mob activities.
The humorous repartee between Hardy and Galdolfini's characters alleviates the squalor and eradicates the depressing tone of this adaption of a Dennis Lehane novella.
Unlike other adaptations of Lehane's work, most notably, Mystic River (2003), The Drop is straightforward and its characters—despite Hardy's slow, shuffling walk—make the story unfold faster. Director Michael Roskam can be credited with not wasting too much screen time on brooding scenes that do little to push the story along—something Mystic River director Clint Eastwood couldn't resist.
The Drop is pure entertainment, the only underlying tension coming from the certainty that Hardy's character is a badass. Bob Saginowski is obviously the strong, silent type who, when pushed, will carve his enemy's heart out and feed it to him with one hand while pouring a shot with the other. All this while looking rueful—like someone whose dog you just kicked.
Speaking of dogs, he has one. A pit bull—a nice wink to the audience about the persona of its master.
So he has a dog, just like Rocky. Guess what? He also has a girl, played by Swedish actress Noomi Rapace (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). Rapace has the same coloring as Talia Shire and her exchanges with Hardy are similar to Rocky and Adrian's affectionate, lighthearted nonsense amid the putrescence of the ghetto.
So if you're weary of the quaff the big movie studios have been churning out of late, give The Drop a look see. It will be worth it.