Is 'Man Down' A True Story? Shia LaBeouf Tackles PTSD In A New, Fictional Drama
Shia LaBeouf continues his 2016 comeback with Man Down, a new film from director Dito Montiel, who previously worked with LaBeouf in A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints. In the film, the star plays a U.S. Marine, Gabriel Drummer, plagued by PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from his time abroad and desperate to reunite with his lost young son stateside. Man Down is really multiple stories woven together, but early trailers seem to focus primarily on Gabriel's time in the Marines, specifically his relationship with his BFF and fellow Marine, Devin (Jai Courtney). Based on the trailer, one could assume that Man Down is a true story about one man's struggle with PTSD, but is Man Down based on a true story?
What the Man Down trailer doesn't show is that the film isn't just about a Marine, it's about a Marine in a post-apocalyptic America. On top of his troubles with PTSD and his traumatic war experiences alongside his best friend, Gabriel is also desperately looking for his young son who has disappeared after an unmentioned apocalyptic event. Man Down is half realistic drama, half science fiction — during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live LaBeouf called it "a mindf--k" — which should be enough to tell you that the film is not based on a true story.
For writer Adam G. Simon who co-wrote the script with Montiel, just because the film had some science-fiction elements didn't make it any less personal. During an appearance on the "Binge Movie Aftertaste" podcast, Simon revealed that the film was partly inspired by his personal experience with homelessness. "This is my life, minus the military aspect, put into film. And it's an explanation — a piece that shows what it's like to live in the mind of someone who has severe PTSD and is in... a catatonic state," Simon said in the podcast. "More than that, it's about a father's journey to get back to his children. Because I was separated from my children at the time, and I couldn't get back to them," he added.
For Montiel, the story of Man Down wasn't as personal, but it did have resonance. "I have friends who have had PTSD," Montiel said in an interview with ET Online. Furthermore, Montiel added, he related to Gabriel's intense focus on his son even as the world was coming down around him. "I kept envisioning this scene, throughout the madness of this film, the world ending, that the father still sees his son."
Like any film, Man Down is grounded in real, human emotion — or in this case, the real traumas of war — it's just not based in fact.
Images: Lionsgate Premiere