The Drop (Blu-ray Review)

the drop whysoblu coverThe Drop is a strange sort of film, as it is ostensibly a crime drama rooted in its characters, but not quite focused enough to claim to be about one thing in particular.  Sure, Tom Hardy is the lead in this film and we are basically following his mysterious character, who seems like a simple enough guy that could blow at any minute; but the film, while fairly straightforward, puts a number of things in front of its characters in a way that makes it hard to describe simply.  As it stands, The Drop is a well-acted feature about criminals, gangsters, abuse, sorted pasts, moving on in one’s life, just trying to get by, and a cute little dog.  Now you can see that cute little dog on Blu-ray.



Bringing a dog into this picture is what threw me off.  This film begins, we see The Drop come up as the title and I figure I know what I am getting into.  Tom Hardy is Bob, an unassuming bartender in Brooklyn, who minds his own business, while the bar serves as one of the key ‘money drops’ for the local gangsters.  This bar used to be owned by Bob’s cousin Marv (James Gandolfini, in his final film role), but Marv now serves more as a former figurehead, after being muscled out.  Early on the bar gets robbed, which is the subject of this film one would think to receive the most attention, but no.  The Drop is really about a dog.

This film was written by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, The Town), who has adapted his own short story, Animal Rescue.  A title like that would have certainly had me prepared for this dog.  While it is easy enough to picture Hardy as Bob the bartender, he soon becomes Bob the bartender who owns a dog, after finding one in a trashcan outside the house of Nadia (Noomi Rapace).  The interaction between these two turns the film into an underplayed romantic drama, with two characters that clearly have or had more going on in their lives than they want to bring up.

This is a main aspect of the film as a whole, given that none of these characters ever really say exactly what is on their mind.  Someone like Marv would rather be curt and defensive, as opposed to open, while Nadia would rather avoid certain subjects and focus on simpler things, like how to take care of a dog.  The film feels fairly grounded due to these interactions, even though I felt the world these characters existed in was a sort of gangster-land, where the kinds of threatening and sinister actions that occur and the atmosphere that comes with it could only take place in a film world such as this.  Of course, this is a movie, and the neo-noir aesthetic being applied to this crime drama about Bob the bartender with a dog adds a level of style to the film, which mostly works.


Director Michael Roskam is making his English-language directorial debut here, coming after his Oscar-nominated film Bullhead, and while The Drop has a slow-going pace and some fairly redundant plot elements, there is a mood and level of grittiness that is nicely captured in this film, while also making room for some occasional dark humor to slip in.  The film may be set in a sort of underworld, given the characters involved, but it is never too grim, especially given the chemistry between Hardy and Gandolfini, let alone the interplay between Hardy and Rapace, which is played straight, but with a hint of natural awkwardness.

One of the most frustrating things a character-based crime drama, like this, can do is feature characters motivated by stubbornness and that is both a blessing and a curse, as I get where real humans would come from, but also find it irritating.  That is what you get with Nadia’s ex-boyfriend Eric played by Matthias Schoenaerts, who is terrific at being exactly what I have described.  He serves as a reason for the plot to play out in certain ways, but it is never contrived.  Instead, we have a character who acts like a real jerk of an ex-boyfriend for some specific reasons, but while they are unreasonable they are not unrealistic.  It is the kind of thing you find in movies based around characters, as opposed to around films that need an action sequence every 20 minutes.  With this in mind, Schoenaerts, let alone the rest of the cast, are all very good in this film, which is ultimately what makes this film work.

The Drop does not get by for its plotting.  We have seen aspects of this story many times and something about the ending ultimately keeps it from accomplishing what it seemed to be set out to do to begin with.  However, Tom Hardy continues to prove himself as one of the stronger actors of today.  Gandolfini was always reliable and that is true to the end, which is a shame.  And then, of course, you have a cute dog.  Sure, it is easy to gain audience sympathy with a plot element like this, but have you seen this dog?  For a film that juggles a lot, it makes sure to include the dog as much as possible, which works well at keeping me occupied, despite walking into a film that I thought would have focus on other things.  But hey, Bob the bartender with a dog was a guy I enjoyed watching.



Encoding: AVC MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: While not grand in scope, we get a few locations (Bob’s house, Marv’s house, Nadia’s house, the bar, etc.) and they are all presented in great detail, which this blu-ray captures quite well.

Depth: Some nice compositions allow this crime drama to feel quite dimensional, given the way it has been shot. Nicely done and it looks great here.

Black Levels: A lot of scenes are done justice thanks to the deep and inky black levels.

Color Reproduction: While this is a dark and moody film, there are actually some nicely done scenes when it comes to showing off the amount of color on display, particularly in the way the bar is lit, since it features so heavily into the film.

Flesh Tones: Facial textures are well handled throughout, with nice amounts of detail and clarity properly registering when the time calls for it.

Noise/Artifacts: Nothing that I could really pick out.




Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Descriptive Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: This is a film with a lot of talking and more score emphasizing a threat than actual action, so with that in mind, I was happy to feel engrossed in the atmosphere.  That said, when the film gets loud, it plays well on this lossless soundtrack.

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer gets a little time to shine, as the film kicks into a level on certain occasions, with the score overpowering the soundtrack in a tense way.

Surround Sound Presentation: The ambiance allows the film to play well on the different channels of a home theaters system. Couple that with the way this film is built and you have a solid mix.

Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone comes in loud and clear enough.



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For a small film like this, it is nice to get a decent amount of extra material, including a commentary.  With that in mind, I am happy to score a little high, given that I was not expecting much.

Features Include:

  • Audio Commentary by Director Michael R. Roskam and Writer Dennis Lehane – Belgium and Boston combine for this fairly enjoyable commentary track.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 6:22) – Only a few deleted scenes and they allow for optional commentary with Roskam and Lehane
  • Making of The Drop (HD, 3:45) – Typical EPK stuff.
  • Keeping It Real (HD, 3:54) – A look at how Lehane developed the story and went from there.
  • Making Brooklyn Your Own (HD, 4:00) – A look at the setting of the film.
  • Rocco the Dog (HD, 2:21) – A deep conversation with the true star of the film, the dog.
  • Character Profile: James Gandolfini (HD, 2:11) – A brief featurette with the cast and crew talking about James Gandolfini.
  • Photo Gallery (HD)
  • Trailers (HD)
  • UltraViolet Copy of the Film


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I liked The Drop more on my second viewing, because I do think the actors shine bright enough to make you appreciate the film well enough.  It is a low-key crime drama that has some good stuff in it, just not a lot to make it all that memorable (even if a cute dog goes a long way).  All of that said, this is a solid Blu-ray, with really good audio and video quality, and a decent selection of extras. Certainly worth checking out for Hardy and Gandolfini fans.

Order Your Copy Here:

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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