Tense war drama is one-dimensional and wonderfully engaging because of it. Is it worth $10? Yes We...
Scattered Shia LaBeouf-starrer about the dangers of PTSD is largely a misfire, but strong performances and a solid ending make it worth a look.
Is it worth $10? Yes
“Man Down” doesn’t start well. Soldier Gabe Drummer (Shia LaBeouf) is seen rescuing his captive son in an abandoned building as helicopters fly overhead. Why he has to rescue his son, why there’s danger, and the identity of the antagonists are all unknown, which means it’s an action scene without context, which means it’s pointless. And no, it’s not so expertly staged and executed that it’s good enough to exist on its own.
Thankfully, director Dito Montiel’s (“Empire State”) film gets progressively better as it goes, culminating in a substantial ending that is good enough to make the movie worth recommending.
It’s interesting that given LaBeouf’s reported off screen antics he’s recently chosen roles, both here and in last summer’s “American Honey,” in which his characters are a bit cuckoo. In both cases, however, they should not be laughed at. In “American Honey” his character represents the degradation of the American dream to its most primal level, and Gabe is a soldier who doesn’t know how to cope with his life being torn apart. These are intense, complex roles that he’s handling well; mind you his talent was never an issue, so if what he’s doing will get people to work with him again, mission accomplished.
One thing “Man Down” does well by the end is showcase the terrors of military veterans’ PTSD, and in doing so it suggests it’s a much bigger problem than people realize. Beyond identifying the problem, though, is the larger issue of how to help the veterans suffering from it. “Man Down” may help in that regard, but the film is unlikely to be embraced on a large enough scale to make a significant difference.
Did you know?
LaBeouf previously worked with Montiel on “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints” (2006), which also starred Robert Downey Jr., Channing Tatum and Rosario Dawson.