DVD review: James Gandolfini's last movie, The Drop - vintage Dennis Lehane
Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini, Noomi Rapace, Matthias Schoenaerts
Director: Michaël Roskam
Writer Dennis Lehane has form when it comes to films of this type, with Mystic River (2003) and Gone Baby Gone (2007) adapted by others from his stories and both charting a similar course through the seedy underbelly of American society.
Here the screen adaptation is his own and Lehane introduces a sense of foreboding in the first few seconds and never really lets up. While the film is known mostly as being the last to feature the late actor James Gandolfini - who produces a trademark turn as a man beaten down by life and disappointment - it really belongs to Tom Hardy.
The British actor plays a barman working for his cousin Marv (Gandolfini) and a man who likes keeping most of society at arm's length. Buried deep beneath that constantly furrowed brow is someone with a few secrets and it's to Hardy's credit that he is able to keep the man's real nature hidden for so long. You are never quite sure what he's all about.
Praise also should go to Belgian director Michaël Roskam. His Oscar-nominated Bullhead (2011) was full of surprises (it was about the illegal beef trade, for starters) and in The Drop he manages to keep his cards close to his chest. The sideline relationship between the bartender and local girl Nadia (Noomi Rapace), and a little dog, is a distraction, but not overplayed so much as to detract heavily from the main game at play.
And that main game is all to do with a "drop" of illicit money the bar folk are told they will receive, a bunch of Chechen gangsters and a local nutcase who threatens to turn everything in the barman's life upside down. And just when things were starting to work out for him, too.
While it doesn't really cover any new ground, The Drop manages to creep its way under your skin. The violence simmers at its fringes and the tension will keep you biting at your nails throughout.
Extras: deleted scenes; Keeping it Real, Making of The Drop, Making Brooklyn Your Own, Rocco the Dog, and Character profile: James Gandolfini featurettes; commentary by Roskam and Lehane; gallery; trailer