Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week:Â The Drop vs. Night Moves: two films that dabble in the world of illicit activities.
PremiseSet in Brooklyn, The Drop tells the story of an ex-con, Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy), trying to clean up his act. In an attempt to stay out of trouble, Saginowski secures a job at a bar run by “Cousin Marv” (James Gandolfini). Once owned by Marv, the joint used to function as a “drop bar”: a place to collect the city’s dirty money. Saginowski’s plan to stay straight is thwarted when a robbery gone wrong draws the two protagonists back into the business. Night Moves follows Dena (Dakota Fanning), Josh (Jesse Eisenberg), and Harmon (Peter Sarsgaard), three radical environmentalists who plot to blow up a dam in Oregon. Tension builds and paranoia subtly sinks in as the trio starts to question whom in their group they can trust. While Night Moves promises suspense, we’re worried about the sluggish paceâ??The Drop is far more likely to hold our attention.Advantage: The Drop
CastAfter a series strong performances in indies like Warrior, Lawless, and Locke, Tom Hardy is on the verge of becoming an A-list star. Â In the trailer for The Drop, Hardy and Gandolfini have palpable on-screen chemistry, and we suspect Gandolfini was in his element playing an East Coast mobster. The leading lady in the film is played by Noomi Rapace, who is most known for her role as Lisbeth Salander in the Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Also, we can’t forget to mention the adorable pit bull puppy as a cast member (the film was previously titled Animal Rescue); to whomever decided to pair Tom Hardy with puppies, we are forever indebted. Night Moves stars Dakota Fanning, Jesse Eisenberg, and Peter Sarsgaard. Fanning and Sarsgaard recently co-starred in Naomi Foner’s Very Good Girls, which wasn’t particularly well received; hopefully the duo fares better the second time around (but we’re not convinced they will). With his roles in The Double and The Social Network, Eisenberg is well equipped to play Joshâ??another character that falls prey to paranoia. Night Moves boasts a cast of talented young actors, but there’s no denying that the top-notch ensemble in The Drop.Advantage: The Drop
WritersOne of the main reasons we are anticipating the release of The Drop is that Dennis Lehane’s name is attached to it. The writer is well known for his novels Shutter Island, Mystic River, and Gone Baby Gone. In the past, Lehane has written for the HBO series Boardwalk Empire and The Wire, which means he knows a thing or two about unlawful behavior. The Drop marks his first shot at writing a feature-length screenplay. Kelly Reichardt, who brought us films such as Wendy and Lucy, Old Joy, and River of Grass, wrote the screenplay for Night Moves (she also directed the film). While Reichardt deals with activism in a clever and refreshing way in Night Moves, we’re partial to Lehane given his momentous success in the past.Advantage: The Drop
BackdropWe couldn’t have a total shut-out, which is why we are dubbing Night Moves the winner in terms of scenery. We’ve all seen “gritty” Brooklynâ??and the majority of The Drop takes place in bars and back alleys. What takes center stage (as it should) in Night Moves is the wilderness. The film was shot in Medford, Oregon and the trailer features stunning shots of West Coast beauty: lush forests, a serene lake, and the dam itself is quite striking. Nature takes on the role of a character in Night Moves, which is why it has our vote.Advantage: Night Moves
Shady BusinessWhile both films deal with illegal activity, the difference lies in intention. The characters in Night Moves have a calculated plan to bring down the hydroelectric dam. According to Fanning’s character: “In 2048, the oceans are going to be empty”, which prompts the trio to undergo all sorts of risky moves (fake IDs included) in the name of mother Earth. In The Drop, Hardy’s character falls into the wrong crowd purely by accident. Nevertheless, the trailer is awash with shots of bloodstained money, guns, police, and female hostages. No matter how hard Hardy and Gandolfini’s characters try to resist it, they’re locked into trouble. We have to admit, Night Moves piqued our curiosityâ??how would one bring down a dam?â??On the other hand, we feel more invested in the characters’ fates in The Dropâ??lives are at stake, and that’s what ultimately gets our hearts racing. Advantage: The Drop
The VerdictThe competition wasn’t very stiffâ??The Drop has all the elements that make for an exciting film: seasoned cast, mystery, and high stakes. While the concept of Night Moves may be more novel than that of The Drop, we’d far rather spend our precious time engrossed in the work of Dennis Lehane.Winner: The Drop