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‘The Drop’ — not a typical low-level gangster flick

Thank God for Tom Hardy, savior of puppies and Scandinavian women who struggle with Brooklyn accents. Hardy has so many wonderful performances under his belt at this point it’s almost enough to make you forgive This Means War.

His latest leading role puts another nail in that preferably forgotten coffin.

Bob Saginowski (Hardy) and Cousin Marv (James Gandolfini) operate a drop bar. Illegal money flows through and nobody is the wiser. Bob finds a dog in a garbage can outside of Nadia’s (Noomi Rapace) house. Throw in crazy ex-boyfriend Eric Deeds (Matthias Schoenaerts) and a few cops, and you have a recipe for drama violent.

“The Drop” is not a completely typical low-level gangster flick. For the most part, it’s a character piece focusing on Bob and his relationship with his dog. To a certain degree this means sidelining the rest of the cast. None of the major characters feel underdeveloped, but it does leave you wishing you had seen more of them. Perhaps that’s the sign of a finely crafted film. “I want more,” has never been the most damning criticism, but it does hold some weight here.

There is a sense that not much is happening that can’t be written off as it being a character piece. It could lose 15 minutes without losing quality or its feature length. That’s the paradox of this film. It’s both too long and needed more.

The screenplay comes to us courtesy of Dennis Lehane and is based on his novel of the same name. Length aside, it’s a solid effort. Characters are fleshed out. Dialogue, aside from some weak lines, maintains the reality of the film’s world. It’s the weakest of the Lehane adaptations. Still, a film that is only just below the likes of “Mystic River,” “Shutter Island” and “Gone Baby Gone” is far better than most of what is playing right now.

Performances are good if not great all around. Hardy continues to prove that he is capable of carrying a film. Gandolfini, in his last feature performance before his death in 2013, works every bit of experience he’s had in this familiar territory. Rapace brings some humanity to the cold and distant gangster world surrounding her, even if she does eventually become yet another girlfriend in distress.

We’ve reached the cinematic dead zone between summer’s blockbusters and fall’s Oscar contenders. There isn’t much being released right now. “The Drop” is a film you’ve seen a dozen times before. It just happens to be better executed than most of its genre-mates.

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