Director: Dito Montiel
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Jai Courtney, Gary Oldman
Release Date: March 7, 2017
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9.5/10
Disc Rating: 7/10
When U.S. Marine Gabriel Drummer (Shia LaBeouf) returns home from his tour in Afghanistan, he finds that the place he once called home is no better than the battlefields he fought on overseas. Accompanied by his best friend Devin Roberts (Jai Courtney), a hard-nosed Marine whose natural instinct is to shoot first and ask questions later, he searches desperately for the location of his estranged son, Johnathan (Charlie Shotwell), and wife Natalie (Kate Mara). In their search, the two intercept Charles (Clifton Collins Jr.), a man carrying vital information about the whereabouts of Gabriel’s family. As we revisit the past, we are guided in unraveling the puzzle of Gabriel’s experience and what will eventually lead us to finding his family.
‘Man Down’ tells the story of U.S. Marine Gabriel Drummer (LaBeouf); after finishing his current tour in Afghanistan, Drummer returns home to a world that is now more ravaged and desolate than that where he served. Accompanied by his faithful, lifelong best friend and fellow Marine Devin Roberts (Courtney) the two make their way through the ruins in a desperate search for the whereabouts of Drummer’s wife and son. Cutting between the current tale, a meeting with an official regarding an “incident” which occurred during his service and highlights of his military career and family life, along with the struggles he and those he loves must tackle before he heads out to war, everything inevitably forms together into a powerful and beautiful story of one man’s unforgettable journey.
Directed by Dito Montiel (Empire State, The Son of No One) from a screenplay he also co-wrote with Adam G. Simon (Synapse) which was based upon a story by Simon, Montiel does a magnificent job at the helm of ‘Man Down’ delivering a powerful and moving film that perfectly captures the raw emotion and struggle within. The film also owes a notable share of the credit to the highly capable cast which is comprised of many talented folks and includes Shia LaBeouf (Fury), Jai Courtney (Suicide Squad), Gary Oldman (Léon: The Professional), Kate Mara (The Martian), Clifton Collins Jr. (TV’s Westworld), and more, nearly all delivering fantastic performances in each of their respective roles, especially LaBeouf who continually steals the show with his breathtaking and phenomenal portrayal of our lead Gabriel Drummer.
‘Man Down’ is an intense, unnerving and emotionally powerful exploration of one soldier’s experiences and the trials and struggles he encounters throughout various points in his recent life. Cleverly intertwining three timelines covering key events in this man’s career and personal life and perfectly cutting between those important moments in the past and the current journey our hero finds himself on; finally forming together into an unforgettable movie experience that should stay with you for some time after the credits role. Shot with gorgeous care and taking the time to explore some important elements that are too often overlooked or simply glossed over, ‘Man Down’ never attempts to shy away from the many painful aspects and unabashedly human moments, while always maintaining a primarily bleak tone with a strange glimpse of hope and light consistently seeping through. Guided throughout its powerful course by director Dito Montiel with passion and care, his talented work at the helm is perfectly complimented by an absolutely riveting performance from Shia LaBeouf that won’t be easily forgotten, plus a number of strong performances from the talented supporting cast. I would strongly urge anyone who appreciates a spectacularly crafted and delivered film that is both a war film and a drama in its own right, along with any fans of director Dito Montiel, star Shia LaBeouf, or other members of the notable cast to make a point of giving this one a watch when you have the opportunity to do so, chances are you won’t be the slightest bit disappointed with this fantastic film.
Overall, ‘Man Down’ is a beautiful, riveting and remarkably human tale of war, love and much more that tackles some painfully human emotions and captures the heart, love and misery of one man’s unforgettable journeys through the good and negative sides of humanity; interconnecting three time periods that eventually come together to form a stunning film that is not to be missed. Flawlessly guided by director Dito Montiel and boosted even further by an outstanding performance from Shia LaBeouf. ‘Man Down’ definitely ears my highest recommendation, it’s a powerful, tense and moving tale that should have to trouble promptly grabbing your attention and keeping you glued to the screen until the unforgettable final moments.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Man Down’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks fantastic as a whole and offers a sharp and detailed presentation from start to finish, with no notable faults to be found within, although some colors do in a few rare and brief occasions appear to blend in an odd manner within faces and other smooth textures; yet in every other regard looking wonderful, holding up impressively even during the darkly lit and fast moving sequences and never causing anything occurring on screen to become rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a solid high definition video presentation from Lionsgate that delivers admirably in nearly every way and should easily please the majority of folks.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack provides a clean, crisp and often quite hard hitting audio presentation throughout. It regularly utilizes all five available channels, particularly during the war sequences in order to send bullets, explosions, debris and more tearing throughout the various speakers, and never resulting in any dialogue which may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible in the process. Overall, this is a fantastic 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that perfectly complements the film and shouldn’t disappoint in any way.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Man Down’ includes a single extra; an ‘Audio Commentary with Director Dito Montiel and Military Consultant Sergeant Nick Jones Jr.’.