“The Drop” was a mafia film that was released to theaters in 2014. It was based on Dennis Lehane’s novel “Animal Rescue”.
It was a significant release since it was the late James Gandolfini’s final film. This film is a sad reminder of how great an actor we lost in Gandolfini. Gandolfini plays the Tony Soprano type character, except in this story, instead of being the boss, he’s at the bottom of the crime world. It is very interesting how they cast him in this role, since he was well known as the Don of the DiMeo crime family in the “Sopranos”. My favorite quote from Gandolfini’s character Marv in “The Drop” is “We’re fuckin’ dead already we’re just still walkin’ around.” This brought back memories for me of the last couple episodes of The Sopranos, where the family has to go into hiding from the New York family.
Gandolfini stars as Marv, who runs the bar “Cousin Marvs'” in Brooklyn. He previously owned the bar 10 years ago, but lost ownership to the Chechen mafia. His real cousin Bob (Tom Hardy) is tends bar for him. Bob and Marv have quite an interesting relationship.
Cousin Marvs’ is a “drop bar”, which is a bar that the local crime bosses choose at random each night to act as the safe for the entire criminal underworld of the city. The bar operators never know the night their bar will be used as the drop bar. This is a security measure to make it harder for people to rob the drop bar.
One night, while walking, Bob hears a dog crying in a trashcan. He opens it up and its a bloody, beaten pitbull. The owner of the garbage, Nadia (Noomi Rapace) yells out to Bob to get out of her garbage. The two of them decide to care for the dog, Nadia will hold him for a few days, then Bob will take over. They name the dog Rocco.
A couple days later, Cousin Marvs’ is robbed at gunpoint by two guys in masks. Later, it shows that Marv actually set up the robbery. It is implied he needed extra money to help pay his father’s medical bills (his father is on life support). The robbers got away with $5,000 and some change.
A day or so after the robbery, Bob is shown walking his dog in a park. While walking the dog, a strange man named Eric Deeds comes up and says he’s got a really nice looking dog. A couple scenes later, this same man shows up at Bob’s house and says the dog is really his dog.
Next, while Bob and Marv are shoveling snow in front of the bar, the Chechens pull up. They come in a van, and in the back of the van, one of the robbers is being held, and his leg was impaled by a spike.
Bob later finds a plastic bag on the fence. Opening it up reveals a grim scene. He finds the money that was stolen and a severed arm, with a broken watch (one of the tidbits of info Bob gave to the detective). Bob returns this money to the Chechens, since it was really their money that was stolen since they own the bar.
This Eric Deeds guy also claims to have killed a man named Richie Whelan. Which is impossible because it was actually Bob who killed Richie Whelan. Wheelman was killed because he owed Marv a large sum of money. He hit in slots and came back to give Marv his money. In the mean time, Marv owed many other people money. So he had Whelan pay him back, and had Bob kill him. This way he looked stronger in other’s eyes and also was able to pay back the people he owed. Also, Deeds was in a psych ward at the same time Whelan was killed, making it impossible for him to have done that.
Back to the severed arm, Bob wraps it up like a piece of meat and sticks a wrench to it. He tosses this in the ocean. Shortly after tossing it in, the detective rolls up. The detective is an interesting character. I’m not sure what he really contributes to the story. The only important bit of info he supplies is that Deeds was in a psych ward when Whelan was murdered. But the Whelan murder was a small detail that could have been left out of the movie to begin with. He doesn’t solve any crime, he’s just an annoyance to everyone. Very odd character. Anyways, the detective says he has been going to the same church as Bob for awhile and has never seen him take communion. You cannot receive communion if you have committed a mortal sin, which includes murder. So, the detective is implying that he thinks Bob is a murderer.
Later on, Deeds appears before Bob once again. He says now he would like 10k for his dog. If Bob doesn’t give him the 10k, he will report the dog stolen to the police, and when he gets the dog back he will beat it up.
Then the Chechens come in and say Cousin Marv’s will be the drop bar for the super bowl. When the super bowl comes, Marv says he is sick, and this is suspicious to Bob because it is the biggest tip day of the year. A next scene shows Marv talking to Deeds and planning for Deeds to rob the bar on super bowl Sunday.
On the day of the super bowl, Deeds breaks into Nadia’s house and tells her she is coming with him to Cousin Marv’s for the game. When Deeds and Nadia walk in the bar, Bob is visibly startled. After the bar clears out, Bob tells Deeds the story of how he killed Richie Whelan, since Deeds has been walking around taking credit for the hit. Bob gives Deeds the 10k for the dog, then Deeds says he needs more money or else he’ll kill Nadia. Then Bob draws his gun and kills Deeds.
He tells Nadia he had to kill Deeds because he was going to hurt Rocco. Nadia promises to keep quiet that Bob killed Deeds. Then the Chechens come and get the drop money, and they help Bob clean up the murder scene. They say cousin Marv is retiring and that Bob is now all alone and can run the bar by himself. They make Bob say “You have to be alone forever”. Then Marv is shown getting shot and killed.
Overall, I give this movie 3/5 stars. If Gandolfini wasn’t in it, I would give it 2/5. I know it has been universally praised by critics, but there was too many things that did not make sense to me. The story is just too weak. I don’t understand what the story about the Richie Whelan murder really had to do with anything. And how did Marv already know Deeds.
Also, the detective did not have to be in the movie at all, he served no purpose whatsoever. What did the dog Rocco have to do with anything? Another question is, did Bob have a further relationship with Nadia? To me this was the story of a connected drop bar, along with some random side stories that had nothing to do with the main plot. Unanswered questions aside, definitely strong performances by Gandolfini and Hardy.