Friday, September 12, 2014
The film is set in New York City's Brooklyn. A friendly bartender Bob (Tom Hardy) works at a bar run by his savvy cousin Marv (James Gandolfini). Marv used to own the bar, but now it's owned by a Chechen mobster Chovka (Michael Aronov) and is occasionally used as "the drop" where dirty money converges secretly in concealed envelopes.
That certainly makes the water hole a robbery target for someone who dares to mess with the mobster Chovka. After one robbery took place, a few individuals including the laid-back Bob and sly Marv are under the watchful eyes of Detective Torres (John Ortiz). However, that robbery may be just a prelude to a bigger scheme which targets the drop.
Meanwhile, Bob rescues an abused little puppy in his neighbor Nadia's (Noomi Rapace) trash can. Because of the dog, he ends up not only having to deal with the mobsters, the detective, and body parts showing at the bar, but also confronting Nadia's frightening ex-boyfriend Eric Deeds (Matthias Schoenaerts).
Based on writer Dennis Lehane's short story, the film's plot is relatively typical for a gangster genre and sometimes it's even confusing. For example, what's the content of the file which the detective reads in a car? The film never explains. The film also lacks the excitement of a grand climax. However, the terrific performance, particularly by Tom Hardy, makes the film gripping and entertaining.
Like any film about mobsters, violence is inevitable. Yet, the film manages to keep it to a minimum without compromising the thrilling effect. It smartly establishes an atmosphere that is both dangerous and suspensive with little blood.
Bob, the passive nice guy, appears to be easy going and avoids troubles when he can, but you can sense from Tom Hardy's expressive eyes that he takes notice about everything surrounding him. Obviously, he is not a typical bartender, and he is more observant to say the least. His intelligence, good nature, and likable personality is smoothly unveiled as the plots unfolds.
This is James Gandolfini's last film before his sudden death. Although the film is centered at Bob, James Gandolfini gave a memorable and solid performance that reminds us what a great actor he was. The fine performance by Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini is enough to make this film to be satisfying.