The Drop is a slow-burning crime story that builds tension by wrapping a net around its main characters and squeezing them tighter until you know they’re going to bust out.
Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Lawless) is a standout as Bob Saginowski, a seemingly gentle soul we used to call “slow.” James Gandolfini (in his last screen role) is all bile and resentment as Bob’s cousin Marv, an ex-wiseguy of the minor sort who now manages the Brooklyn bar he used to own before the Chechen Mob took it over. When Bob rescues a pit-bull puppy from a trash can, he meets wounded-bird Nadia (Noomi Rapace, banning all traces of that crazy Swedish grrl); she rescues him from his solitary existence, but also pulls him farther into things that Just Ain’t Right.
This film bears the clear mark of Dennis Lehane, who wrote the screen adaptation of his own short story: the low-rent milieu, the ragged working-class characters hovering on the edge between right and wrong, the damage even two-bit hoods can do. Director Michaël Roskam gets understated, affecting performances out of his cast and resists overcooking the plot, all to good effect. The Drop more than earns its 88% Rotten Tomatoes rating.