Tom Hardy provides an off-screen soliloquy late on in The Drop that begins, “There are some sins that you just can’t come back from.” As Bob, he’s already given us context for such talk. We see him start each day at the 8 a.m. mass at Saint Dominic’s. This is a Dennis Lehane story, so you know the soliloquy will be swallowed up in more abysmal speculations. Even the church has its problems: Saint Dom’s is due for the wrecking ball in the next few weeks. “It’s gonna be condos with stained-glass windows,” says Detective Torres, Bob’s miniature grand inquisitor.
In many ways, this great crime drama belongs to Hardy. His expression is eloquent, even when studiously avoiding eye contact in big conversations, like those with his damaged friend Nadia (Noomi Rapace). He has the whole movie mapped on his face — he’s solemn and slow, but you sense that a lot of dreadful stuff is coming. His main foil is Cousin Marv (James Gandolfini), a has-been neighborhood don. Gandolfini long ago learned to embody the familiar and evil simultaneously, and his interactions with Bob are so perfect it breaks your heart again that this great and sophisticated heavy is gone forever.
Bob and Marv run a bar (it used to be Marv’s) that occasionally gets used as a cash drop by some fierce Chechen gangsters. Meanwhile, Marv has problems supporting his father, and Bob finds a pitbull puppy in a trash can. Halfway through, it’s not at all clear how any of these elements will coalesce. The best part of the movie, however, happens right after Bob’s soliloquy on sin, in a scene that might faintly remind you of Lehane’s Mystic River, but with an Elmore Leonard twist. In it, we learn that dreamers and posers don’t stand a chance stacked up against people who show up and do their jobs without questioning and, it’s sad to note, with a view of the world that’s moved beyond sin.