Michaël R. Roskam’s 2011 feature Bullhead was bold, proactive, and powerfully original. It was a thoughtful meditation on masculinity as it relates to both sexuality and violence. Sadly, his follow-up, The Drop, is a shrug of a picture that lacks any vibrancy whatsoever. The movie seems to coast on being a Dennis Lehane-scripted, working-class crime picture filled led by talented actors. There’s barely anything beneath its stolid surface. The film is too meager too offend or excite in any manner. At most, it’s an odd whimper of a crime thriller where the most engaging aspect is Tom Hardy playing with a puppy.
Bob (Hardy) works as a bartender for his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini) at a Brooklyn bar that also functions as a “drop bar”, which means it serves as a holding location for dirty money. Walking home from the bar one night, Bob discovers an injured puppy in a trash can, and gets the help of a neighbor, Nadia (Noomi Rapace), to nurse the dog back to health. However, the couple and their dog are under the eye of local thug Eric Deeds (Matthia Schoenaerts). Meanwhile, back at the bar, Bob and Marv are robbed at gunpoint, and are tasked with recovering the money, even though the robbery may be a setup for a larger score.
As a “dog person”, I don’t know if it was possible for any plotline to take precedence over, “I hope the dog is okay,” but it doesn’t help that the crime story, ostensibly the main plot, is dreadfully uninteresting. Even after the money is stolen, there doesn’t seem to be much urgency in getting it back, and the machinations behind the robbery are flat. It’s a sad state of affairs when a story involving stolen mob money is so deflated that the movie needs a subplot involving a random thug threatening to repo a dog. Lehane does tie the two plots together, but it’s done in an almost laughably forced manner.
Roskam tries to play the movie like a slow boil and let his cast carry the day, but Bob is so meek that his dullness feels at odds with the supporting characters who are always on edge. Nothing really fazes Bob, and while his gentle demeanor is strangely charming, it makes him a bland protagonist. Near the end of the picture, the character becomes exciting, but it feels more like a function of having a big reveal rather than coming about organically.
The movie’s shambling nature runs to the end credits as The Drop cycles through three different endings in the hopes of finding a grace note to a picture that never had much of a tune. The Drop is about as deep as a trailer or poster. It’s an idea of a movie with a wisp of an execution. It’s brazenly mediocre in almost every single way. It’s a movie that’s worth watching if you’re on one of those older airplanes that doesn’t let you choose the programming. Or you could just enjoy this picture.
Click here for all of our TIFF 2014 coverage. Click on the links below for our other TIFF 2014 reviews:
- Force Majeure
- The Humbling
- The Look of Silence
- Mr. Turner
- The Riot Club
- The Tale of Princess Kaguya
- What We Do in the Shadows