The first review from the fifth day of #Venezia72 is the post-war drama Man Down. This film is up for the Orizzonti award here in Venice.
Man Down stars Shia LaBeouf, Jai Courtney and the British legend Gary Oldman as three very different protagonists. The supporting actress is Kate Mara playing Shia’s wife and the mother to his child.
This film crosses over a few different genres but also because it has three separate sub-plots. It is a difficult film to follow but the final twenty minutes wraps it up well…
Man Down is set in a post-apocalyptic America where former U.S. Marine Gabriel Drummer (Shia LaBeouf) searches desperately for the whereabouts of his son, accompanied by his best friend (Jai Courtney) and a survivor.
This is the second time in a decade that Shia LaBeouf and the director (Dito Montiel) have worked together. This time around, it is a lot more hard-hitting that their 2006 effort ‘A Guide To Recognising Your Saints’.
Man Down chucks you straight into the action when a rough-looking Shia is breaking into what looks like a warehouse. The shot is immediately cut to his family life and then later on to his military days. The film is set on three plot lines. One being in the post-apocalyptic world, one being in the Marines and one being back at home.
Montiel struggles with juggling the narratives as at times you feel lost. There isn’t one point during the film you are told what year it is, where you are or why it is all happening. The last twenty minutes ties the loose ends up - until this point, it is all very messy and confusing.
The key factor that saves this film is the talented yet strange Shia LaBeouf. He delivers a great performance as a traumatised marine and can be completely believed in his role. There are a few scenes that are so memorable for his acting and should be applauded. The skype sequence with his wife (Kate Mara), the last discussion he has with Gary Oldman and the final scenes under the table in his house. The latter scene I mentioned is mind-blowingly good from Shia. He said to me earlier today that he pulled his experience from the times with his father when he was in the army. He revealed that they were true emotions and feelings being portrayed when acting that sequence. You can really tell.
I think the film could have been so much better. I think Dito Montiel and Adam Simon (writer) actually let Shia down here. Jai Courtney was non-existent which is becoming a regular statement I write. He has no charisma or real talent for me. Shia creates one of his greatest performances to date only to be let down by sloppy writing and direction.
When this is released, I would give it a go just to see Shia’s immense acting. He deserves that.
Cineroom's Rating: 2 Stars
Man Down will be released worldwide on the 30th October 2015. Certificate 15