European actors do an uneven job bringing a "hey-yous-guys" Brooklyn crime drama to life in the English-language debut of Belgium's Michaël R. Roskam (Bullhead). The film's distinctly working-class Catholic vibe is best attributed to Mystic River's Dennis Lehane, whose source material—a 2009 short story called "Animal Rescue"—has been expanded by the author himself into a script that probably worked better on page (and in his original setting of Boston's scrappy Dorchester).
Largely set in a dark, roomy Irish pub that bears little resemblance to the hipster-laden borough Brooklyn has become, The Drop focuses on a trio of characters shivering through one chilly January. Future Mad Max Tom Hardy—who does the finest, most cryptic work here—is Bob, a wool-hat wearing schnook who tends bar and keeps to himself. Behind him sits Marv (James Gandolfini, reminding us of his effortless authenticity), the gruff proprietor who knows that, on some nights, his establishment becomes an illegal deposit site for dirty money. And Nadia (Noomi Rapace) is a timid Rocky-like local girl, who warily welcomes Bob into her life after he finds a mewling pit-bull puppy in her trash can.
Adorable as that dog is, it can't bare the symbolic weight thrust upon it: a fragile thing with fearsome potential. That's the whole of this dingy-looking film in shorthand and, as the bar is robbed by the pooch's original owner (Rust and Bone's less-than-menacing Matthias Schoenaerts, awkward), then targeted for a bigger sting, you wait for ominous clouds to fulminate. They never quite do. Hardy's Tom is a soft-spoken guy forced into a tricky situation; take one look at his action-hero physique, though, and you sense he's got a larger role to play. Yet until the movie's cathartic showdown (and a few backstory revelations that impress too late), The Drop putters along in a dozy register, less a simmering pot than a cooling one.
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Cast and crew