Though it premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 2015, director Dito Montiel’s latest movie is finally making its way to American cinemas on December 2nd. Man Down tells the story of Gabriel Drummer (Shia Labeouf), a U.S. marine who returns home to discover that America has been reduced to a dangerous war zone. Aided by his best friend, Devin Roberts (Jai Courtney), Drummer embarks on a quest to find his wife (Kate Mara) and son.
Man Down looks like an intense war drama, complete with the requisite training camp montages, covert mission sequences, and flashbacks to pre-war memories with Drummer’s family. I’ll be honest: As I’ve said before, war dramas are really hit-or-miss. There are well-crafted ones (ex. Bridge on the River Kwai, Saving Private Ryan) and then there are the ones which tend to use the experiences and PTSD tendencies of soldiers to exploit cheap emotions (American Sniper, Lone Survivor). Though I’m inclined to believe Man Down belongs in the latter category based on the trailer I’ve seen, the thing holding me back is Shia Labeouf. In the four years since ditching the blockbuster trail, Labeouf has chosen risky and experimental projects, like Nymphomaniac and American Honey, movies which seem to challenge him as an actor. Man Down looks like a part of that trend, and I’m curious to see how it plays out with Labeouf as the star.
Man Down will be in theatres on Friday, December 2. It is Rated R and is intended for mature audiences.
MARK BAUTISTA | KXSU Arts Reporter