Events unfold in disorienting fashion as we meet Gabriel, his wife Natalie (Kate Mara), and their son Jonathan (Charlie Shotwell). Nothing is as it seems in Gabriel's world, be it his interactions with best friend and fellow solider Devin (Jai Courtney) or his personal family life. Postwar America appears to be an apocalyptic wasteland, at least from Gabriel's perspective. We're placed inside his mind, which leads us down detours that don't easily fit into narrative perspective. The more that's revealed about Gabriel's experiences, the less we can trust anything onscreen. It's not hard to see why this fractured approach to storytelling would be rejected by many mainstream moviegoers. It's confusing and diametrically opposed to typical Hollywood structure. Go with it and experience a challenging approach to character study (and an effective "twist" in the third act that ties things together).
Lionsgate's Blu-ray does a commendable job handling the highly stylized cinematography of Shelly Johnson. Much of the film is deliberately soft and gauzy, which results in a bit of a jarring viewing experience until you get used to it. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix packs some visceral jolts when the story calls for it. The score by Clint Mansell (Black Swan) is prominently featured to good effect. Special features are light, with only an audio commentary track by director Dito Montiel (joined by Military Advisor Sergeant Nick Jones Jr.).
Man Down is ultimately a depressing experience, but it offers an earnest, skillful stab at dealing with a very important issue.