Title: Man Down

Director: Dito Montiel

Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Gary Oldman, Kate Mara,  Jai Courtney, Charlie Shotwell.

‘Man Down’ brings out Shia LaBeouf’s eclecticism, as he portrays a variety of character nuances for his role. In the film, the shots and cinematography depict a terrifically disquieting post-apocalyptic America. However the movie script per se is not mind-gobbling.

The film’s greatest flaw is that it can’t take sides on what genre it wants to be. Indie? Blockbuster? It ends up being a lousy hybrid that attempts to surprise audiences in its intricate narration and tries to move spectators with a heartrending conclusion.

The story is told by the point of view of U.S. Marine Gabriel Drummer (Shia LaBeouf), who searches desperately for the whereabouts of his estranged son, Jonathan (Charlie Shotwell) and wife, Natalie (Kate Mara). Accompanied by his best friend Devin Roberts (Jai Courtney), a hard-nosed marine whose natural instinct is to shoot first and ask questions later. As we revisit the past, we are guided in unraveling the puzzle of Gabriel’s experience and what will eventually lead us to the origin of this war torn America.


When we discover (towards the end) that the story is about the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the film starts to be more likeable. At the very beginning, we get a delicious taste of the father-son relationship, with an adorably gooey scene of the marine driving his child to school and coming up with a parent phrase to say I love you, without embarrassing the child in front of his friends: “Man Down.” The magic of this moment dissolves into the second act that proceeds slowly (too slowly), disseminating clues that will lead us to understand Drummer’s confused stream of thought.

‘Man Down’, by and large, has the perfect look for the topic it is portraying: it’s dirty, real and honest. Nevertheless the storytelling gives into melodrama by depicting the dramatic scenes of the film with bombastic slow motions.

Technical: B

Acting: B

Story: B-

Overall: B

Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi


By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi, is a film critic, culture and foreign affairs reporter, screenwriter, film-maker and visual artist. She studied in a British school in Milan, graduated in Political Sciences, got her Masters in screenwriting and film production and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York and Los Angeles. Chiara’s “Material Puns” use wordplay to weld the title of the painting with the materials placed on canvas, through an ironic reinterpretation of Pop-Art, Dadaism and Ready Made. She exhibited her artwork in Milan, Rome, Venice, London, Oxford, Paris and Manhattan. Chiara works as a reporter for online, print, radio and television and also as a film festival PR/publicist. As a bi-lingual journalist (English and Italian), who is also fluent in French and Spanish, she is a member of the Foreign Press Association in New York, the Women Film Critics Circle in New York, the Italian Association of Journalists in Milan and the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean. Chiara is also a Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts at IED University in Milan.

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