Man Down

This Dito Montiel (Fighting, The Son of No One) directed film is a look at mental health and how soldiers returning from war can be affected by the tragedy of war and life.

This film tries to put us inside the mind of a soldier and they lead up to his deployment to war, the trauma that can be suffered at war and the result of seeing things that can’t be unseen. It begins with U.S. Marine Gabriel Drummer (Shia LaBeouf) searching for his son, Johnathan (Charlie Shotwell), and wife, Natalie (Kate Mara), in a post-apocalyptic America.

His only company is his best friend and fellow war veteran Devin Roberts (Jai Courtney). We then flash back to a counseling session between Gabriel and Counselor Peyton (Gary Oldman). They are recounting an incident that happened while Gabriel and Devin were in the field as well as talk about the relationship between the two brothers in arms. Peyton probes Gabriel for answers to what happened in the field and what his life at home will be like when he returns. The story takes us through Gabriel’s journey from boot camp to his search to be reunited with his wife and child.

The beginning of the film is so scattered with flash backs and flash forwards it is not the easiest story to follow. Montiel tries to tie the story all together at the end but it really done quickly and sloppily. There was no really good flow to the film.

The message at the end was really powerful but there execution to get there really didn’t work for me. The cast individual performances were good but I thought that as a whole there was not cohesion.

The relationships between all the characters seemed forced and it was hard to get emotionally invested in what should have been and emotionally compelling story. LaBeouf does commit and his performance I would say the bright spot. I think the intention was that the end of the movie should be a surprise or twist but the ending for me was never really in doubt.

There were points when the film seemed to have momentum but that was stopped by a flash back or forward that would take you out of the moment. All trying to set up a conclusion that seemed inevitable.

The idea of bringing awareness to a real issue in our country, of returning veterans suffering from PTSD, is a noble one and I applaud them for trying. I just wish the execution would have been better overall.

1 out of 5