Based on a story by celebrated crime author Dennis Lehane, The Drop (20th Century Fox) takes place in the Brooklyn underworld where ‘money drops’ are used to funnel cash to local gangsters.
When a robbery at the bar of his employer and cousin Marv (James Gandolfini, The Sopranos) goes awry, bartender Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy, Warrior) finds himself embroiled in an investigation that digs deep into the neighbourhood’s murky past. Meanwhile, Bob’s life is complicated further his tentative relationship with Nadia (Noomi Rapace, Prometheus), with the pair bonding over an abandoned pitbull puppy they found left in a trash can.
Previously titled ‘Animal Rescue’, The Drop is a gritty, menacing crime drama that makes effective use of Tom Hardy’s brooding charisma. Far less showy than Hardy’s roles in the likes of Bronson and The Dark Knight Rises, the unassuming Saginowski plays his cards close to his chest, and doesn’t reveal his true colours until late in the game.
It may not be as satisfying as previous Lehane adaptations such as Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone, but The Drop is an engaging thriller, boosted by strong performances from its two leads, as well as Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts (Bullhead, Rust & Bone). Unfortunately, due to its timing, The Drop is likely to be best remembered for supplying James Gandolfini’s last screen role – even if his aging hard-man character pales in comparison with his boozy, jaded hitman from Killing Them Softly. The Drop will be must-watch viewing for Lehane fans, but its measured pace may prove too low-key for thriller junkies.
In The Homesman (eOne) independent frontier woman Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby) volunteers for the dangerous task of leading three mentally unstable women across the harsh Nebraska territories to deliver them to a minister’s wife (Meryl Streep). On their perilous journey Mary Bee saves the life of on-the-run reprobate George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones) – in exchange for his help. Together the unlikely pair are pushed to their limits as they face constant threats transporting their human cargo across the inhospitable landscape of the Old West.
The Homesman is hugely evocative and occasionally very disturbing, and the always-impressive Tommy Lee Jones deserves plenty of kudos for his director/co-writer/leading man multi-tasking. The narrative curve may be odd and unwieldy at times, and the tone wilfully uneven, but the end-product is dark and satisfying throughout. Buoyed with cameos from the likes of Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad), Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother, Where Art Thous) and James Spader (The Blacklist) – whose Irish accent is one of the film’s few low points(!) – Jones has recruited an impressive roll-call of guests to flesh out his bleak vision. Rarely comfortable viewing, The Homesman is a hugely powerful film, with some genuinely shocking moments. Highly recommended.
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Loosely based on the Ray Robinson novel of the same name, Electricity (Soda) stars model Agyness Deyn as Lily O’Connor, a brash, charismatic Northerner who lives on the coast and ekes out a living working in an amusement arcade. Although epileptic Lily is at pains to keep her painful past at arm’s length, the death of her estranged mother forces her confront all of the unpleasantness that she left behind. When her manipulative older brother Barry (Paul Anderson, Peaky Blinders) informs her that her younger brother Mikey (Christian Cooke, Witches of East End) – the only one who looked after her when they were kids – disappeared to London years ago, she resolves to try and track him down.
Although Electricity’s plot is fairly flimsy, the film’s raw charge comes from Lily’s epilepsy, with her increasingly dangerous fits causing her to see vivid visual distortions and experience terrifying visions. Considering her comparative lack of acting experience – bit-part roles in Clash of the Titans (2010) and Pusher (2012) are the highlights of her CV to date – Deyn delivers a memorably stark lead performance. While the lumpen script doesn’t quite do justice to her undoubted commitment to the role, Electricity is a cut above most Brit-grit filler.