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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

September 25, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Review: Impressive performances in ‘The Drop’ drive film’s drama

"The Drop"

Directed by Michael R. Roskam

A New York City bar rumbles with a stampede of customers on a not-so-average night. Marv (James Gandolfini) and Bob (Tom Hardy) do their best to deal with the traffic in their dimly lit bar, though it’s not alcohol that causes such a backup: Marv’s Bar is what’s known as a “drop bar.” Gang members from all over the city come to this bar to drop off their earnings, to be given to the big guys up the crime food chain, leaving Marv and Bob in a very undesirable middleman position.

As “The Drop” develops, it becomes apparent that director Michael R. Roskam made it his mission to capture the culture in the slums of New York City. Many dimly lit alleyways and poorly put together houses flood the composition of each shot, giving us a grim setting for our main characters. This depiction of New York City works very well, reflecting the crime-filled lifestyle Marv and Bob are stuck living in.

Hardy does everything he can to sell the audience with a New York City accent, and while he is usually known for his elegant British accent, recently the actor has broadened his range and attempted, and succeeded, to delve into very diverse cultures.

This film focuses around Bob and his mainly unwanted interactions with the criminal world of New York City. Bob is in no way a smart character in this film — he speaks whatever is on his mind and does whatever he feels is right. However, “The Drop” does a great job of portraying Bob as the hero of the story, despite the very apparent criminal implications surrounding his background. Bob’s simple nature almost acts as a fault in the movie as his character is supposed to portray deep decision-making and cunning deceit.

“The Drop” continues to put Bob on a pedestal throughout the movie by adding numerous storylines. In one notable instance, Bob becomes an animal savior when he claims a terribly beaten dog from a trash can and treats him like a child. In this moment, the storyline, while not terribly important to the plot, does shine a light on the main character’s soft side, and implies that he may have more good in him than bad.

Roskam seems to place emphasis on capturing just how connected the criminal side of New York City really is. Everyone is in some way connected to someone else in this movie, stretching from the police to Chechnyan mobsters. Roskam wants to show that New York City isn’t just a setting in this movie but rather a character of its own that everyone knows. Roskam makes this connected world he’s created work very well as it constantly leaves the audience witnessing the web of characters, trying to follow which characters know each other and how.

“The Drop” does an excellent job of giving the viewer that eerie vibe that is so commonly associated with the New York City night scene. The problem with this eerie feeling in the viewer’s gut is that it leaves an unsatisfied tension. This film gives many subtle clues that bad things are about to occur, but the majority of the time the viewer is left empty handed. There are long pauses in the score and lingering camera angles that keep the viewers on the edge of their seats.

In the narrative realm, “The Drop” develops its plot very slowly, with the majority of the narrative playing out in the last 15 minutes of the film. It is hard not to question whether some of the plot lines were really relevant to the film and if they could have been cut out. Most gang-related movies have police officers playing a large role, but the main detective in this movie, Detective Torres (John Ortiz), plays a very irrelevant and miniscule role. The movie takes too long in setting the scene and not enough time developing the story.

With a powerful performances from both Hardy and Gandolfini, his last performance before his death in June of 2013, “The Drop” burrows its audience members deep into the New York City slums and leaves them there with no way out, as the film doesn’t answer many of the questions the audience has been wondering throughout the film. Ultimately, “The Drop” doesn’t spend enough time tying up the loose ends it took so much time creating.