New To Blu: Man Down (2017) - Reviewed

Shia LaBeouf fights the war at home with the long awaited psychological thriller, Man Down. 

Initially slated for a 2015 release, this stunning portrayal of the wounds of war and its familial scars finally gets a much needed release on blu-ray in the coming weeks. With an outstanding script and performances from its three lead players, Man Down is a fully realized snapshot of the emotional destruction that war causes and the long term effects of leaving loved ones behind in a world that's gone mad. Split between the future world of a war torn U.S. armageddon, training at Camp Lejeune, endearing moments of family time, and the rampage of Afghanistan, this is a blistering piece of work that shines a light on all angles of the military. 

Shia LaBeouf has abandoned Hollywood norms for a post blockbuster career that relies on his full dedication to his artistic craft. Gone are his days of willingness to sacrifice art for CGI effects and action laden spectacles reared of large budgets and illogical scenes of mass destruction. Since making his break from the boundaries of mindless franchise films, he's become a force to be reckoned with. With Man Down he continues to create hyper realistic, highly kinetic characters that further this second chapter of his career. Despite the reputation that LaBeouf has garnered as an emotionally turbulent person, he continues to prove himself worthy as a dramatic wrecking ball worthy of an Oscar. Man Down takes him to that level. 

Make fun of my beard again! I dare you!

As a scathing indictment of our current military affairs in the Middle East and the dire effects of PTSD, this ninety minute tale is a nearly perfect piece of cinema directed by Dito Montiel (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints). Using a bare bones budget, limited sets, and a plot that explores the duality between life at home and the cold realities of brutal war, Man Down exposes friendship, the broken bonds of marriage, and the after effects of watching men die. Montiel shows a great control over his cast as he derives an emotive context from the typically unworthy Jai Courtney and the always stunning Kate Mara. LaBeouf is on another level with Man Down, further proving that he is easily one of the best actors of his generation. 

Man Down will go fully unnoticed by audiences at large. It's going straight to blu-ray, dvd, and streaming services. This is a sad fate for a movie that deserves admiration for its multi-tiered story and excellence in acting all around. LaBeouf may have fled the mainstream, but he's doing exactly what he should be doing. He's no longer part of the system that constantly tries to break him down. He's making and starring in thoughtful pieces of work that analyze the human condition. Man Down scrutinizes war, our personal life choices, and how many families make sacrifices to defend our country even when it might be a battle we shouldn't be fighting.