I’ll just say from the outset that you need to give this film a good half-hour. It’s a film that simply took some time for me to get acclimated to. For starters, the film isn’t at all what the trailers may have led you to believe. It isn’t a suspenseful crime thriller; it’s a slow, methodical character-based drama. Tom Hardy isn’t a tough-as-nails bad-ass; he’s a quiet, likable, possibly slightly mentally challenged guy. And the film is shot in a very elliptical style; it’s not an art film or anything, but it’s quiet and languidly paced.
But once you acclimate to what the film is really about and what it’s really doing, you’ll figure out that you’re watching one of the best films of the year. The script is incredibly attuned to its characters, particularly Hardy’s character Bob and James Gandolfini’s frustrated middle-man Marv. And Hardy and Gandolfini are both really mesmerizing. It’s a fitting swan song for Gandolfini; what with this film and last year’s Enough Said, we were very lucky in that the films he left behind after his premature death were excellent. Would that we’d had the same luck with Philip Seymour Hoffman, whose posthumous films have, so far, been deeply disappointing. I was very impressed with Hardy’s performance earlier this year in Locke and I particularly praised his minimalism. Well, Ivan Locke is almost Shakespearean compared to the minimalism of Bob; Hardy’s performance is certainly the heart of the movie and he may have finally bettered his wonderful supporting turn in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, a film in which he also played a stock, clichéd character that revealed surprising depths as the film unfolded. But as the film gets at the tragic truths about these characters, it becomes deeply emotionally effecting. It’s ultimately a film about many things, but perhaps most striking of all is the way it seems to all boil down to perceptions, our perceptions of ourselves and of others, and, as with any good film noir, the inescapability of the past. The Drop’s trailer made it look like an above average crime thriller; it’s actually a dense, heart-breaking, character driven masterpiece. And that final shot? Exactly, absolutely perfect. I highly recommend you go see this great film immediately. 4 stars.
tl;dr – expectation overturning film isn’t the tense crime thriller you expect; it’s actually a slow, beautifully written, wonderfully acted character study. 4 stars.