Posthumous releases after an actor's death are tricky business. It's hard not to feel some melancholy knowing you won't be seeing said actor onscreen again. And you hope the film won't be a bad mark on his or her legacy.
Posthumous releases after an actor’s death are tricky business. It’s hard not to feel some melancholy knowing you won’t be seeing said actor onscreen again. And you hope the film won’t be a bad mark on his or her legacy.
“The Drop” is James Gandolfini’s last film. It’s a supporting role in a film that seems perfectly suited for how we’ll remember Gandolfini: a deceptively menacing presence in a world of organized crime.
Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) is an earnest and hard-working bartender at a New York dive bar managed by Cousin Marv (Gandolfini). The bar, once owned by Marv, is now a “drop” for bookkeeping money for a Chechen gangster (Michael Aronov).
An ill-advised robbery at the bar puts a series of events in motion that draws Bob into a world he’s worked hard to avoid. Meanwhile, the discovery of an abused dog leaves Bob with a new four-legged friend and a romantic interest (Noomi Rapace).
“The Drop” feels like a movie we’ve seen before, but I don’t mean that as an insult. It’s a slow-boiler of a crime thriller that uses our past experience with this genre to create great tension.
Director Michaël R. Roskam reteams with his “Bullhead” star Hardy. Dennis Lehane, author of “Mystic River” and “Gone, Baby, Gone,” adapted one of his short stories for the film. It’s a team that knows what it’s doing.
Gandolfini is great in a fine final role that doesn’t stray far from expectations, but Hardy is the star in every sense. His character’s kindness plays against an ever-complicating situation, and the explosiveness that simmers underneath is just present enough to add spice. Added to the mix is the excellent Rapace, star of the original “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” films.
“The Drop” is a pulpy crime drama — and an often-heartbreaking morality tale — but be warned, it’s not a movie of non-stop action. Roskam turns the screws slowly, setting up some unbelievable tension.
Overall, it may not quite be in the best of class of the genre, but fans shouldn’t miss this one.