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The Drop (PG) *** DIRTY POOL!

The late great James Gan­dolfini, a diverse actor if there ever was one, returns to rather familiar terri­tory in The Drop. Fresh fare from Fox Searchlight Pictures this intense drama is now unfolding at Cineplex Odeon Theatres around B.C. Bars are a place to meet oth­ers or to drown your sorrow in whiskey.

Those familiar with the restaurant/bev­erage industry know that all sorts of Characters frequent saloons. Betting and other shady practices go hand in hand with liquour. One Brooklyn bar is the centre of all sorts of dubious activi­ties in The Drop.

Good employees are hard to come by but Marvin’s bar has an ace named Bob. Underrated actor Tom Hardy puts on a great face as a dumb ass in the best Forest Gump tradition that Tom Hanks would be proud of. Besides tending bar Bob is loyal to his uncle Marv, the manager, played flawlessly by James Gandolfini of The Sopranos fame. Both men wind up in all sorts of upheaval as a bizarre group of tough guys infringe on their livelihoods.

Somewhat slow at times the intense pressure of the family relationships comes to a head with rather unpredictable results. There is a real texture to the griminess of the whole illegal trade revolving around this one particular watering hole and when the violence does come it grabs you. Forget about humour here. The only real warmth comes from a fleet­ing woman named Nadia who’s made memorable by the compelling brood­ing presence of Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

Director Michael Roskam pulls off a well executed drama of some low life criminals that is a fitting departure for the always affable James Gandolfini who will be sorely missed.