When Belgian filmmaker Michael R. Roskam released the affecting drama Bullhead in 2011, there was a sense that we were witnessing the start of what could potentially be a prosperous career – which was lated confirmed with an Oscar nomination for his efforts. His sophomore endeavour, The Drop, signals an intention to break into Hollywood, proving himself to be adept with an accomplished thriller.
Tom Hardy plays Bob Saginowski, a bartender who finds an injured puppy on the side of the road outside the home of Nadia, played by Noomi Rapace, unwittingly left in charge of the young pup. However this seemingly tender act inadvertently places Bob in trouble, as he sparks up a friendship with his new friend – the ex-partner to the neighbourhood’s feared criminal Eric Deeds (Matthias Schoenaerts). As the pair locks horns, Bob has a duty to protect his Cousin Marv’s (James Gandolfini) bar, knowing it could be a target given it’s where a covert scheme exists for local gangsters to deposit their cash.
Yet again Hardy shines in another leading role, proving himself to be one of the most dependable stars in world cinema. He’s helped along by an excellent, and regrettably final turn by the late Gandolfini, while both Rapace and Schoenaerts, the latter who played the lead in Bullhead, impress greatly. The performances are matched by a compelling narrative – with corruption, deceit and aggression bubbling beneath our protagonists; forming an intense, pensive atmosphere as we progress towards our finale. However, in spite of the captivating storyline, the sharp screenplay and commendable performances, there’s something missing in this movie: a spark of sorts – anything to alleviate it beyond the typical crime thriller. But instead it never transcends the limitations of the genre.
Fortunately that doesn’t detract from our involvement in the piece, as it’s a feature that is exceedingly easy to indulge in and enjoy. Plus, there’s a really cute puppy in this film, and everybody loves a cute puppy.