The Drop is an emotionally manipulative crime drama that forcibly links multiple, supposedly character-driven plot threads in order to build to one of the most laughably-executed twists in recent memory. Tom Hardy stars as Bob, a bartender who has to deal with the fact that his bar, a “drop point” where the Chechen mob often picks up their ever-moving money, has recently been robbed. Bob must also deal with Cousin Marv, played by James Gandolfini in his last ever role, an over-the-hill gangster who can’t accept that he’s past his prime, and Eric Deeds, the abusive owner of a pitbull pup that Bob finds in the trash one night and decides to adopt, as well as the former boyfriend of Bob’s neighbor and love interest, Nadia, played by Noomi Rapace. Problems keep showing up in Bob’s life, many of which he can’t seem to fix, so he is simply left hoping they end soon.
On the whole, the plot of this movie is ridiculously convoluted and ultimately entirely forgettable. It feels as though it’s being written as it goes along, especially in regards to the character of Eric Deeds, a character who only exists to be evil. Each scene with Deeds only exists to tell the audience another bad thing about him. In one scene, he’s said to be abusive; in the next, a character mentions he may have murdered a revered gangster, Glory Days, about 20 years ago. But then, in another scene, it’s stated that he’s also Nadia’s overbearing former lover. And then, he wants to rob Bob’s bar. All these “revelations” do not develop this character; this is just gradually attributing as many negative facts to a villain as possible in order to make the audience hate him even more with each scene. In truth, Deeds is merely a walking caricature of a small-time thug as portrayed in an incredibly one-note performance by Matthias Schoenaerts.
The other performances are barely of note, either. Tom Hardy holds one expression throughout most of the film, and his bizarre accent fluctuates frequently, even at times sounding like the Scottish one he adopted for Locke. It’s impressive how well he can mask his voice, but his performance here won’t resonate with anyone. Noomi Rapace is simply average, and while James Gandolfini still has charisma in this last role, Marv is bland; he is a self-centered man who occasionally makes a little quip that is obviously written in the script, that’s all. Gandolfini’s performance is especially hindered by a myriad of awkward pauses brought on by strange choices in editing and the apparent inability of writer Dennis Lehane of The Wire to effectively end a casual conversation. At least this makes these exchanges ironically entertaining, as audiences can chuckle at the unintentional uneasiness of just about every unusually-paced conversation.
For all its faults, the film certainly looks beautiful. The opening shot employs a puddle to capture a reflection of a well-lit suspension bridge against a dark night, immersing the audience into the gloomy-but-hopeful atmosphere the film wishes it could properly accomplish. Every part of a later meeting with one of the Chechens inside the bar is lit perfectly, as a gangster’s face is barely visible, making him look appropriately shady, stoic, and intimidating. Even a few strangely out-of-focus shots and the embarrassingly uninspired “dramatic” score don’t subtract from the film’s impressive visual appeal.
The Drop is certainly not an awful film. Though generic, nothing is particularly frustrating plot-wise and it is even sprinkled with enjoyable moments; however, the film’s issues lie primarily in its characters. For instance, Bob’s character arc apparently concludes when he does something so ridiculously blunt and out-of-nowhere in the climax that the audience is left howling with laughter rather than being emotionally invested in this shocking shift in character. The lesson to take away is that one-dimensional characters are ultimately difficult to care about, and thus, where the film expects the audience to experience a point of development, there’s simply not enough to connect to. The Drop’s inability to make audiences sympathize with the characters leaves them giggling ironically at this unfortunate attempt at complexity and unable to find any deeper meaning in the film’s the tired, unsubtle points about how all actions have consequences.