The film had its world premiere in the Horizon section at 72nd Venice International Film Festival on September 6, 2015. It was widely released on December 2, 2016, by Lionsgate Premiere, to negative reviews from critics.
A U.S. Marine named Gabriel Drummer (Shia LaBeouf) has a wife, Natalie (Kate Mara), and a son, Jonathan (Charlie Shotwell). Jonathan gets bullied at the school because Natalie said "I love you" to him in front of his schoolmates. Gabriel and Jonathan come up with "man down" as a secret code for "I love you". Before serving a tour to Afghanistan, Gabriel promises to get in touch with Jonathan. Gabriel's best friend and fellow Marine Devin Roberts (Jai Courtney), who injured his arm, stays at the city and takes care of Natalie and Jonathan for a while.
Gabriel serves a tour to Afghanistan. Later, he is joined by Devin. They are attacked by the Afghan armed group. Devin is fatally shot and apologizes to Gabriel. Gabriel finds a memo, on which Devin's password for a video chatting website is written. Gabriel accesses to the website and realizes that Natalie cheated on him with Devin.
Gabriel is interviewed by Captain Peyton (Gary Oldman) about the incident in Afghanistan. Peyton is concerned about Gabriel's mental condition. However, Gabriel insists that he is okay and leaves Peyton's office.
When Gabriel returns home, he finds that the city is devastated. Accompanied by Devin, he searches desperately for the whereabouts of Natalie and Jonathan. The two encounter Charles (Clifton Collins, Jr.), who has an envelope of the letter that Gabriel wrote to Jonathan. Devin scuffles with Charles and accidentally shoots him. Gabriel finds Jonathan and takes him out. The police surround them.
Coming into the building that Gabriel and Jonathan are hiding, Natalie talks to Gabriel. Gabriel realizes that he is confused. It is revealed that the city is not devastated. Devin died in Afghanistan. The one who shot Charles is not Devin but Gabriel. He cries and apologizes to Natalie and Jonathan. Immediately after, he is shot by the police. Jonathan runs up to him. Gabriel tries to hand over a memo to Jonathan. It says "man down".Shia LaBeouf as Gabriel Drummer
Kate Mara as Natalie Drummer
Gary Oldman as Captain Peyton
Jai Courtney as Devin Roberts
Clifton Collins, Jr. as Charles
Charlie Shotwell as Jonathan Drummer
In September 2014, Shia LaBeouf, Kate Mara and Gary Oldman joined the cast of the film, with Dito Montiel directing from a screenplay by Adam G. Simon. Dawn Krantz, Stephen McEveety, and Jon Burton, will serve as producers on the film, while Lisa Wilson, Myles Nestel, Roger Goff, Russell Geyser and Clay Pecorin will serve as executive producers under their The Solution banner. That same month, Jai Courtney joined the cast of the film. In October 2014, Charlie Shotwell joined the cast of the film.
Principal photography began on October 30, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana, and ended on December 5, 2014.
The film had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 6, 2015. It went onto screen at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 12, 2015, in the Gala Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. Lionsgate Premiere acquired distribution rights to the film. The film was released on December 2, 2016 and has grossed approximately $450,000 in North America. In the UK it had a token release to one venue, the Reel Cinema in Burnley, Lancashire. It was simultaneously released to video-on-demand services, a practice that ensures distributors need to pay for advertising only once. It was subsequently reported that the release had cinema revenue of £7.
Man Down received negative reviews from critics. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 14%, based on 49 reviews, with an average score of 3.6/10. On Metacritic, the film has a score of 27 out of 100, based on 14 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".
Josh Lasser of IGN gave the film a 6.1 out of 10, stating, "Despite the audience knowing what is going to happen in advance of it occurring, and how it is all going to end, the film still manages to elicit a response." Deborah Young of The Hollywood Reporter commented that "[Shia LaBeouf's] performance is over-powered by the film's grandiose, misplaced ambition to switch back and forth between genres, from the war film to sci fi, from family film to the intimately psychological." Kenji Fujishima of Slant Magazine stated, "Sadly, Montiel fails his lead actor, trashing Drummer's anguish by turning it into a parlor trick, thus denying him the humanity LaBeouf so valiantly tries to convey."