Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini, Noomi Rapace, Matthias Schoenaerts
Michaël R. Roskam
Though it comes with the undesirable label of being James Gandolfini’s final screen appearance, “The Drop” has all the makings of a dark horse awards contender. Adapted by esteemed crime writer Dennis Lehane from his short story “Animal Rescue,” the movie doesn’t have the same cynicism as past adaptions of the author’s work (“Mystic River,” “Gone Baby Gone”), but it’s a grimy little crime drama that harkens back to the great Sidney Lumet films of the 1970s. This is a movie that places mood and character above all else, and while that might not be everyone’s cup of tea, Michaël R. Roskam’s “The Drop” is a well-paced and expertly acted film that serves as a fitting end to one actor’s career and the exciting emergence of another.
Tom Hardy stars as Bob Saginowski, a quiet, well-meaning bartender at the Brooklyn watering hole previously owned by his cousin Marv (Gandolfini), who still runs the day-to-day operations. But while Marv is the face of the business (his name even adorns the outside of the building), it really belongs to a group of Chechen mobsters that use it as one of the city’s many drop bars, a place chosen at random to hold all of the day’s illegal bookmaking money. When the bar is robbed by some amateur thieves, the two cousins are put in charge of finding those responsible, leading Marv (who helped plan the whole thing) to resort to desperate measures. Meanwhile, Bob finds a wounded pit bull in a trash can and decides to adopt it, but when the previous owner (Matthias Schoenaerts) resurfaces looking for trouble, he must decide how far he’s willing to go to protect the mutt and the woman (Noomi Rapace) helping him care for it.
James Gandolfini passed away in Rome, Italy due to an apparent heart attack. He was only 51 years old.
Gandolfini became famous with his portrayal of Tony Soprano. “The Sopranos” is one of the best and most influential dramas in TV history, and the success of the show hinged on Gandolfini’s role as Tony. In many ways the Tony Soprano character lived up to the stereotypes of a New Jersey mob boss, but the brilliance and appeal of “The Sopranos” derived from showing every aspect of Tony’s life, including the small challenges and joys of everyday life. The hook was the idea that this mob boss was seeing a psychiatrist to deal with his panic attacks, but that was just the device to help David Chase flush out this complex and fascinating character.
The writing on the show was brilliant, but it would have gone nowhere without Gandolfini in the lead role. The Tony he created was real, so all the tough guy mob scenes seemed authentic and believable, just like his interactions with his family and friends. Of course, he and the show benefited from an amazing cast, with Edie Falco as Carmela in an equally compelling role. With the two of them, we saw all of the conflicts and contradictions of the lives they lived.
“The Sopranos” helped bring about the revolution in television that saw an explosion of creativity on cable TV, a process that is now broadening even further to streaming original shows on Netflix. Forget about broadcast TV and even most movies – the best stuff is all happening on cable, and that’s been the case for years. In a world where we can access all of these shows on multiple formats and on multiple devices, viewers are much better off watching series like “The Sopranos,” “Breaking Bad,” “The Wire,” etc. over the latest movies. You can’t underestimate the influence of “The Sopranos” and James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano.