You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

‘Man Down’ is disappointing hodgepodge of ideas and styles

Before the final credits roll in “Man Down,” statistics are flashed on screen regarding the number of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans with PTSD or who commit suicide. They are sobering, alarming figures, and they deserve to be preceded by a better movie than this handsomely crafted and ambitious but heavy-handed hodgepodge of ideas and styles.

Director Dito Montiel (“Fighting”), working from a script co-written with Adam G. Simon, immediately throws the viewer into the confusing scrum of a few competing storylines. There’s Marine Gabriel Drummer (Shia LaBeouf) happy at home with his wife, Natalie (Kate Mara), and young son, Johnny (Charlie Shotwell) before shipping off. There’s Gabriel in the midst of a military operation in Afghanistan. There’s Gabriel being interrogated by a senior commander (Gary Oldman) for an “incident.” And there’s Gabriel, along with his best combat buddy, Devin (Jai Courtney), running through the hellscape that is a post-apocalyptic America on the hunt for his missing son.

How these timelines and genres connect — is this science fiction? psychological drama? war thriller? all of the above? — is meant to give “Man Down” a teasing tension, but it all plays out so laboriously that interest is drained long before all the dots are connected. And when the stories do fuse, everything is so obvious and not worth the time it takes to get there.

To his credit, a beefed-up LaBeouf throws himself into the role with fervor, and Clint Mansell’s score bears a haunting beauty. But none of it is enough to save “Man Down.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Movies & TV

The savory side of carrot cake
The savory side of carrot cake

When I was a child, I wanted carrot cake for every birthday. I wasn’t a fan of bakery cakes, expertly plastered with supersweet butter-free frostings in pastel colors. (I did like the realistic decorative little roses, though.) Those fine-crumbed white or yellow cakes did not have much appeal for me, somehow both dry and gummy. Carrot cake, on...
Can this meal kit change your view of convenience cooking?
Can this meal kit change your view of convenience cooking?

I’ve been more than a little incredulous about meal kits. My biggest complaints have been that they are expensive and not environmentally friendly. I’m not paying $8 or $12 per serving for a meal unless someone else is cooking it, and those bulky boxes weighed down with ice packs are so heavy to deliver to my doorstep. When I opened a recent...
8 upcoming galas: Austin’s social scene goes on temporary summer break
8 upcoming galas: Austin’s social scene goes on temporary summer break

July 29 An Evening with Jackson Galaxy What: Shadow Cats’ 20th anniversary benefit will include a vegan or vegetarian dinner, live music, auction and a keynote talk from cat whisperer Galaxy. Cost: $125 tickets; sponsorships start at $1,500 Where: Austin Marriott North, 2600 La Frontera Blvd., Round Rock Information:
Potato salad with a side of family politics
Potato salad with a side of family politics

When I was growing up, there were really only two kinds of potato salad: Your mama’s and my mama’s. Whether vinegar-, mayonnaise- or mustard-based, warm or cold, my mama’s was always better than your mama’s. More than one family meal has been tarnished by the argument. No matter how tiny the sweet onion was minced, your baby...
More events for Wednesday, June 28, and beyond

Film 101X Summer Cinema. The film series continues with “The Big Lebowski” at its new home of Stubb’s Austin. The movie will start when it gets dark, but come early with your lawn chairs and blankets to get a good seat. Those 21 and over can also enjoy $5 16 oz. Blue Moon cans. You know the movie, right? “I’m the Dude...
More Stories