We went to see James Gandolfini’s final (?) film, The Drop and (due to traffic) ended up seeing Brittany Murphy’s final (?) film, Something Wicked. It’s probably uncontroversial to suggest that Gandolfini got the better deal.
Newcomer Michael R. Roskam directs Dennis Lehane’s screenplay, based on Lehane’s short story, a tale of a hardworking bartender named Bob (Tom Hardy), who finds himself in a tough spot when the bar he works in, run by his dubious cousin Marv (James Gandolfini), is robbed.
The owners of the bar, as it turns out, are Chechen mobsters, who acquired the bar from Cousin Marv a few years back after he had a run of bad luck. It’s a smallish amount of money, a few thousand dollars, but the Mob doesn’t take kindly to losing even small amounts of money, which means Cousin Marv (and perhaps by extension, Bob) is on the hook. And, as is always the case with the mob, it’s not so much the money as it is the principle.
On top of which, one bar is chosen at random to hold all the Mob’s ill-gotten gains, and the robbery may be the set up for an even bigger robbery.
Bob sort of floats through all this, seeming positively naive about things, and dealing with his own issue: To wit, a puppy found in a woman’s garbage can, that he must raise and train, only to discover the original owner wants to blackmail him over it. (As in, “Give me a lot of money or I’ll go to the police and get my dog back, at which point I’ll torture it to death.”)
So, Bob’s our hero, and we sort of see him through the eyes of the dog owner’s ex-girlfriend, Nadia (Noomi Rapace), and as the movie unfolds, we learn about the history of Marv, Bob, Nadia and Nadia’s ex (played by Matthias Schoenarts, of Veerhoven’s Black Book).
By the way, Schoenarts is Belgian and Rapace, of course, she of the dragon tattoo, is Swedish, which means half our cast of Brooklynites is furrin’. They do a good job with their accents (especially when compared to A Walk Among The Tombstones, which made me wonder if New Yorker actors were in short supply).
Anyway, it’s a good little story, with some well-done suspense moments and character development. Given the story, the ending was obvious, I thought, but necessarily so. That is, if it hadn’t ended the way it did, the rest of the story really wouldn’t have held together. This is a good thing.
The denouement between Bob and Nadia is very Lehane-y. I have mixed feelings about his view of male-female relationships, I confess. (Mystic River disgusted me, for example.)
Great performances all around. Fine direction. The Boy and I approved.