First Hit: This film powerfully brings the point home about PTSD through one soldiers experience.
Writer Adam G. Simon and Director Dito Montiel effectively brings together the effects of war through one soldiers eyes by using three visual amalgamated stories.
It is important to note that every night there are 200,000 vets sleeping on the streets in the United States. And that there are 20 US veterans committing suicide every single day. This film sheds light on the cause.
Gabriel Drummer (Shia LeBeouf) and best lifelong buddy Devin Roberts (Jai Courtney) join the Marines together. They suffer and succeed together. Gabriel is married to Natalie (Kate Mara) and have a son Johnathan (Charlie Shotwell) who Gabriel loves dearly.
The film's stories are interesting and effective. But, until I connected the dots, about two-thirds the way through, the post war apocalyptic scenes didn’t work for me. I was initially frustrated and questioned these scenes, until the clarity came.
The interview scenes with Counselor Payton (Gary Oldman) were excellent. The use of this as a vehicle to share the knowledge that our government knows we have a problem and doesn't necessarily have the best tools to help soldiers was fantastic.
The scenes of the actual firefight were very strong in that they showed the bravery and risk soldiers take in a war such as the ones we fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. To have made a possible error with lives on the line is difficult to accept. To learn of a betrayal while overseas only compounded and added tinder to the raging bull within him.
LeBeouf was outstanding. To show the audience internal rage inside, while controlling the exterior of his face is a rare skill and here it was amazing. I felt the on-the-edge of bursting so much my heart ached. Courtney was excellent as his close friend. Having his back in war and in the apocalyptic world despite the betrayal, was perfect. Mara was wonderful in her role. The way she wanted and needed Gabriel to be there for her was palpable. Oldman was very good as the Marine counselor who worked on getting Gabriel to share his story and feelings. Shotwell was great as the young boy who loved and idolized his dad through it all. Simon wrote a very engaging and strong script. Using “Man Down” as the title and Gabriel and Johnathan’s code words – really worked for me as it expressed it all. Montiel had a great handle on this film. The lighting, sets, and sounds were very effective and he got powerful performances while telling a “need to hear” story.
Overall: This film is haunting and important.