Bob Saginowski finds himself at the center of a robbery gone awry and entwined in an investigation that digs deep into the neighborhood’s past where friends, families, and foes all work together to make a living – no matter the cost.
I debated with this one whether to give it a 3 or 4, and eventually settled on a 3, which is a reflection on my mixed feelings about the film. Based on a Dennis Lehane novel (the Boston native responsible for the novels which went on to create two of the best films of the 2000’s, ‘Gone Baby Gone‘ and ‘Mystic River‘), it’s a scuzzy crime story featuring shady characters and even shadier bars, with a terrific lead performance from Tom Hardy, and the final screen performance from the late, great James Gandolfini. The film follows Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy), a bartender who works for a local bar called ‘Cousin Marv’s’, ran by Gandolfini’s Marv, and used as a ‘drop’ for local criminals to launder money.
The film attempts to tell two stories which start to converge as the film drives towards a conclusion. The first surrounds a masked robbery at the bar where the laundered money is stolen, leading to some severely angered Chechen gangsters asking questions of Marv and Bob. The second involves a badly beaten dog Bob discovers in a trash can, and the women, Nadia (Noomi Rapace) who lives in the nearby house that he begins to form a relationship with. The key to both of these stories is Eric Deeds, a vicious individual played by the intense Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts (best known for ‘Rust and Bone‘ alongside Marion Cotillard), who starts to cause problems for Bob in particular. The final character in the piece is John Ortiz’s cop, who spends most of his screentime popping up to complain about the local church closing down and never really moves away from the film’s periphery.
There’s some nice performances on show here, with Tom Hardy giving a nicely understated performance that never truly gives away what’s going on underneath his glum facade. Gandolfini is playing to type, but it’s a performance he excels at and it underlines the sadness that this is the last performance he’s been able to give us. Director Michael R. Roskam had only directed one film before this (the Oscar nominated Belgian film, ‘Bullhead‘, also starring Schoenaerts), and he keeps this moving along nicely, with my main criticism being his love of using the camera’s blur to obscure characters as they enter a room a little bit too frequently. There was a lot to like about the film but I couldn’t help but feeling that it was all a little slight, and the conclusion didn’t feel overly satisfying. A fun watch, but there are many better crime movies out there.
Directed By: Michael R. Roskam
Starring: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ann Dowd, Michael Aronov, Elizabeth Rodriguez, James Frecheville and John Ortiz