The latest Dennis Lehane adaptation to cross my path is The Drop (2014), a taut, compact mystery fueled by Tom Hardy’s immersive starring performance. Hardy plays Bob Saginowski, a low-key, rather dim bartender who’s spent his life working for his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini). Marv’s a has-been wiseguy who boosts his income by doing favors for the Chechen mob. When Bob rescues a pit bull from the garbage can of Nadia (Noomi Rapace), a sweet, mild-mannered romance blooms, that also puts Bob at odds with Nadia’s abusive ex Eric Deeds (Matthias Schoenaerts). A hold-up at the bar threatens Marv’s tenuous relationship with the mob just as Bob and Deeds’ rivalry slowly starts to develop, leading to tangled complications that threaten to turn simmering tension into an explosive conflict.
Taut with suspense and nicely engineered menace, The Drop is an atmospheric and confidently performed mystery. It’s a small, engrossing film, thanks largely to Hardy’s weirdly likable turn as an inscrutable average joe. His unconventional chemistry with Rapace is charming, and the script generates steady tension by subtly jeopardizing their relationship throughout. The intricate weave of story elements leads to a finely crafted climax, and an intriguing, loaded denouement. A solid, well crafted little thriller.