Man Down: Film Review

Man Down has been pretty savaged by critics but I’m baffled because I actually liked it. Like, it’s not amazing but it’s certainly not as bad as reviews lead me to believe.

Shia LaBeouf plays Gabriel, who leaves his wife Natalie (Kate Mara) and son Jonathan (Charlie Shotwell) to serve in Afghanistan with his childhood buddy Devin (Jai Courtney) as members of the U.S. Marines. Something happens on one mission and Gabriel doesn’t return home the same person.

Most critics have blasted the structure because it hops around all over the place and there’s a lot of back and forth between timelines, tones and pacing – from the main war story, to flashbacks before the war, Gabriel having a deep meeting with Gary Oldman to his mysterious mission with Devin – so you don’t really get what it’s even about for a while. I understand people who said it doesn’t make for a cohesive piece and is quite messy but it kept me interested, it would have been a slow and dull war movie otherwise, and I was engaged trying to put the pieces together and see the bigger picture.

There is a huge revelation at the end when it all comes together that was shocking because I didn’t see it coming and it changed everything you knew up until that point. It was intense and I was holding my breath worried about the outcome. This wouldn’t have happened if it was told in a straightforward way.

The film, which features a very good performance by LaBeouf, is very chaotic and messy and doesn’t handle PTSD sensitively, yes, but I still enjoyed it and liked that it changed it up and was a non-traditional war movie/psychological drama.

In selected cinemas now 

 

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