The Drop ★★★½

Let’s talk about Chekhov’s Gun. You know it’s important the first time you see it in a film, usually because its presence in the frame is unmistakable and intentional. When the director so clearly reinforces its presence throughout a narrative and, in The Drop’s case, with very little subtlety, my eyes roll and a little bit of the film’s potential dies for me. It’s a problem a lot of thrillers have, but it's a device rarely found in a slow-burn psychological crime drama. Roskam’s film, both surprisingly and fortunately, winds up not having just one Gun, and deftly crafts its shell game as the story is woven. But is it too little too late?

While the performances are fantastic – with Gandolfini seemingly back in the role of a washed out Tony Soprano (a character we know and love and miss) and Hardy injecting an incredible realness in his dim-witted Bob – and the overall craft of the film is solid and visually compelling, it’s just not really all that entertaining. This film’s the type of slow burn that comes to a boil exactly on schedule, and its pacing isn’t the problem. Rather, it seems as though what it’s boiling just isn’t quite that thought-provoking.

When the credits roll and we realize the film we’ve just watched is an adaptation of a Lehane (of Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, and The Wire fame) short story titled “Animal Rescue”, it granulates the bigger issue of this piece: it feels like a short story that’s been extended to feature length. There’s not enough meat on its bones to truly immerse us in its seedy world or the characters’ histories and motivations. And in the end we’re left not wondering “what just happened?”, but rather, “what is the importance of what just happened?”, which is perhaps a harder thing to walk away from. Because I can’t simply dismiss it as a bad film (it’s not), but it’s not exactly satisfying either.