“When U.S. Marine Gabriel Drummer (Shia LaBeouf) returns from his tour in Afghanistan, he finds the place he once called home in no better shape than the battlefields he’s left behind. Desperate to find his estranged family – son Johnathan (Charlie Shotwell) and wife Natalie (Kate Mara) – Gabriel is aided in his search by his best friend Devin (Jai Courtney), a hard-nosed Marine. Before long, the two intercept Charles (Clifton Collins Jr.), a man with vital information concerning the whereabouts of Gabriel’s family. A psychological suspense-thriller also starring Gary Oldman, Man Down revisits the past on the way to unlocking the puzzle of Gabriel’s experience.” That is the official description for Man Down, now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD from Lionsgate, which has provided NewTechReview with a NFR copy for review.
Before I start talking about the movie, I feel I should say that, in my opinion, Shia LaBeouf is far from the world’s greatest actor. While I’ve enjoyed some of the films in which he’s taken part, his performances have been less than stellar. With that said, however, I have to admit that his performance in Man Down is probably his best so far and I congratulate him on working to improve his craft. His portrayal of a soldier who comes back home from the war in Afghanistan with a severe case of PTSD, is one that I think anybody who has had contact with a PTSD victim will find very believable.
Of course, there have already been a number of films that have covered the topic of PTSD, but Man Down tries to do things a bit differently by telling its story with intertwining plotlines in a nonlinear fashion. One storyline, which starts the movie, has Gabriel (LaBeouf) engaging in a covert op to save his son Jonathan (Charlie Shotwell), who has been kidnapped and held hostage in a mysterious warehouse. Another storyline depicts Gabriel’s interactions with Councilor Peyton (Gary Oldman) who is a war psychiatrist trying to dig into a traumatic experience that is troubling Gabriel.
Unfortunately, the nonlinear storytelling is the film’s biggest problem. The first part of the film jumps from one story to the next, revealing the different storylines in a disjointed fashion, which I’m sure many viewers might find confusing. You have to really pay attention to what’s going on in the film, and maybe that’s what director Dito Montiel was wanting from his audience. However, many viewers are bound to become discouraged and decide to skip the last part of the film, which is actually the culmination of all the storylines and by far the best part of movie.
As far as bonus features are concerned, you’ll only find one... Audio Commentary with Director Dito Montiel and Military Consultant Nick Jones Jr. However, if you enjoy commentaries, then you’ll want to listen to this one, as Nick Jones Jr. provides some very interesting details about some of the scenes that were included in the film and based on Nick’s real-life experiences as a soldier.
While Man Down can be confusing and require your sharp viewing attention because of its nonlinear storyline, I still feel that many moviegoers will find it interesting. Shia LaBeouf, along with the other actors in the film, really gave it their all and carry the story along with their strong performances. This is definitely not the best film released this year, but you may still want to see it if you’re at all interested in the subject matter.
For more information, visit:
* Amazon: http://amzn.to/2oTQLWP
* Lionsgate: lionsgate.com