In adapting his own short story (“Animal Rescue”), screenwriter and novelist Dennis Lehane (Gone Baby Gone and Shutter Island) shifts the action from the mean streets of Boston to pre-hipster Brooklyn, N.Y., recalling the glory days of underworld rule. But there is a slow-burning, neo-noir vibe at play with Bob (a brilliantly self-contained Tom Hardy), the amiable bartender working for his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini) in a bar that serves as a collection spot for local gangster money.
The bar gets robbed one night, Bob rescues an abused dog from a dumpster and meets an equally jaded young woman (Noomi Rapace) with a neighborhood tough guy (Matthias Schoenaerts) skulking around ready to make trouble, and you’re just waiting for the trapdoor to fall out from under everyone. Director Michaël Roskam (Bullhead) doesn’t rush the proceedings, allowing his stellar cast to set the stage for a chilling finale that may not offer genuine surprises, yet still gets under the skin. (R) Grade: B+