Under the Radar

'Man Down': A Marine Tries to Find His Way Home


In Man Down (out now on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD and On Demand), Shia LaBeouf plays Gabriel Drummer, a Marine who's coming home from a traumatic tour of duty in Afghanistan. In spite of Shia's misguided attempts at political protest, he's shown a remarkable ability to play military men in the movies. He was excellent in the WWII tank movie Fury and he's good here as a Marine of few words. (Remember his "four-year" protest against the Trump administration? That seems to be over now.)

Man Down presents itself as a movie about two Marines (LaBeouf and Jai Courtney) who return home to find the United States in post-apocalyptic disarray. The two Marines use their battle skills to navigate the decimated landscape in search of Drummer's wife and son (Kate Mara and Charlie Shotwell). The story's intercut with flashbacks to the family's pre-war life, counseling sessions with a military therapist (Gary Oldman) and incidents from their tour in Afghanistan.


The trailer and promotional copy about the movie have been very careful not to reveal the movie's big twist. Without revealing what's exactly going on in Man Down, it's fair to tell our readers that it's a movie about PTSD. Writer-director Dito Montiel (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, Empire State) wants to make a point about how hard it is for warriors scarred by combat to return home, but the jumbled action thriller elements detract from the effort. There's a Blu-ray commentary track with the Montiel and the film's military advisor that offers their perspective.

Man Down looks like it was produced on a shoestring budget. Film scholars of the future who are writing about the history of Iraq-Afghanistan war movies will definitely be checking it out. You own results in 2017 may vary.

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