IF YOU WERE an ardent fan of the late actor James Gandolfini, you might want to skip “The Drop,” his final film. As Marv, he’s Tony Soprano minus the power, charm and underlying sweetness. Well beyond his glory days, Marv lives a sad life. A cynical loser who runs the neighborhood drinking hole he once owned years ago, he shares a shabby apartment with his spinster sister and kowtows to the slick, foreign thugs who are his bosses. All this has turned him into a bitter and very bad dude, a part he plays stunningly and convincingly. But Marv leaves a bad taste in your mouth which Gandolfini, being dead, will not be able to eradicate in future performances. If you think you can handle it, get ready for a dark time.
This is a sober story about evil deeds, mob money and wasted lives. Rife with bad guys, some worse than others but none of them good, even the detective nosing around seems untrustworthy. In the middle of everything is a pit bull puppy that steals your heart, especially since he’s the only good guy. Believe me, you will want a pit bull by the end of the film. In fact, you’ll wish you had one for protection until you get home; this movie has the creep-you-out factor that makes one leery about leaving the theater.
Set in some part of Brooklyn you’ve likely never visited, the plot is nothing if not confusing. You never know what, exactly, is going on, just that it’s definitely illegal. The star of the movie is someone I had never seen before (Tom Hardy), who is either a superb actor or heavy into anti-anxiety meds. As Bob the bartender, he is nice until suddenly he’s not nice — in a big way. Despite that, he remains endearing. His low-key love interest is a worn-out woman (played by Noomi Rapace, best known for the Swedish version of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo“), who once cut herself with a potato peeler a few years back, causing visible scars. “I was high and didn’t like myself very much back then,” she explains. (Big surprise.)
There is no music, or at least none that you notice, and the silence heightens the unrelenting tension. People get shot, severed body parts are involved. There is blood and a fair amount of cigarette smoke. Summing up: If you enjoy sharp cinematography of horrific deeds carried out by bleak characters muttering ambiguous threats in barely audible tones, this is your movie.
Andrea Rouda blogs at “Call Me Madcap.”