Tom “Man of a Thousand Voices” Hardy plays Bob Saginowski, a mild mannered bartender at Cousin Marv’s a Brooklyn neighborhood pub owned by the Chechnyan mafia. Like many of the borough’s bars, Marv’s is sometimes used as a “drop,” a place where gangsters secretly hide money until it is collected by their crime bosses. One night after work Bob hears a dog whimpering from inside a garbage can. Lifting the lid, he finds a beaten pit bull puppy. He adopts the dog and romances Nadia, (Noomi Rapace), the woman who helped him rescue the animal, but soon a robbery, a scheme by his boss Marv (James Gandolfini) and the dog’s former owner (Matthias Schoenaerts) force Bob to show his true colors.
This is a boy-and-his-dog story, but it ain’t “Old Yeller.” Sure there are gun shots and a cute dog, but there is also a slow unveiling of the clues, red herrings and characters with shady pasts.
As Bob, Hardy is a cypher; kind to dogs, shy and lovesick, he is an average neighborhood guy. Except in this neighborhood average guys have pasts, and Hardy does a nice job of playing a guy who is trying to move on while the past tries to stop him in his tracks.
Gandolfini, in his final role, plays to type as the Tony Soprano-Lite bar owner and while it is a part he could play in his sleep, there is something comforting about seeing him, one last time, as a conflicted tough guy.
Then there is the dog (very cute), the one character that doesn’t seem to have a nefarious past.
“The Drop” is a slice of life, a slickly made look at the underbelly of crime, relationships and dog rearing. Nice performances make up for some plot idiosyncrasies and the cute dog earns some goodwill for a story that doesn’t so much comment on the condition of its characters as it does reveal it.