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by Dustin Heller

The Drop is the new Brooklyn based crime-drama from director Michaël R. Roskam.  The Belgium director only has one other feature film to his credit, the outstanding Bullhead, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012.  If you don’t mind the subtitles, Bullhead is definitely a film worth seeking out.  The Drop boasts an A-list cast with stars Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini, Noomi Rapace, and the star of Bullhead, Matthias Schoenaerts.  The Drop just had its world premiere in the Special Presentations section of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival this past Friday.

Mild-mannered Bob Saginowski (Hardy) tends bar at his cousin Marv’s (Gandolfini) local Brooklyn bar.  Even though the bar is still named Cousin Marv’s, it has been owned by the Chechen mob for years and it serves as a “drop” bar for laundering illegal gambling money.  Late one night, the bar is held up at gunpoint and its Bob and Marv’s responsibility to track down mob’s money.  Around the same time, Bob stumbles upon an abandoned puppy in a trash can outside of a neighbors place.  From this, Bob forms a relationship with Nadia (Rapace) as he tries to care for and raise this puppy.  Little does he know, the original owner of the dog is a local thug that has a dark past in the community.  The thug, Eric Deeds (Schoenaerts), is threatening to call the authorities and get the dog back if Bob doesn’t pay up.  As dark secrets are revealed, perhaps Deeds is wanting more than just his dog back.  It seems as if Bob has his back against the wall without anyone to turn to, and as the search for the stolen money intensifies and the blackmail threat becomes even more real, the lines of loyalty and right vs. wrong get blurred.

The Drop is a brilliantly acted gritty crime-drama that will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.  Not only is it thrilling, but it is also very smart and will keep you guessing throughout.  A lot of the credit here goes to the screenwriter, Dennis Lehane.  Lehane is the author of a pair of excellent novels that were turned into films in Mystic River and Gone, Baby, Gone.  Needless to say, the guy has a brilliant mind for crime drama, and a real knack for capturing the underbelly of Brooklyn.  As fantastic as the writing is, it is the acting and the direction from Roskam that breathes life into the film.  This is only Roskam’s second feature film, but he’s definitely making a name for himself and is someone to keep a close eye on in the future.  As for the cast, Tom Hardy is one of the best working actors alive today and shows another side of his repertoire in this film.  The Drop also serves as the last feature film of the late James Gandolfini.  Gandolfini is right in his element here and plays his part to perfection.  Noomi Rapace and Matthias Schoenaerts are also both excellent in the film.  In my opinion, this is the type of film that should be a contender in any awards race as it is top notch on all levels.  With the less-than-stellar offerings the Cineplex has had to offer over the last few weeks, The Drop gives us a very good reason to head out to the movies again.  Hopefully, this will serve as the beginning of a great fall movie season.

Grade:  A

The Drop opened on Friday, September 12