Man Down ★½

Some people struggle to find sympathy for Shia LaBeouf, a talented young actor whose career has so violently careened from studio blockbusters to outsider art projects that it often seems like he’s trolling the entire planet, but to watch him in Dito Montiel’s disastrous “Man Down” — to see how hard he throws himself even into a movie that nothing else going for it — is to recognize once and for all that LaBeouf is a performer who never shows up without the full courage of his convictions.

A well-intentioned but woefully misconceived genre mishmash, “Man Down” positions itself as a quasi-allegorical plea for Americans to take better care of their veterans, but even its best ideas are half-baked, and Montiel’s direct-to-video budget has no hope of affording his ambition. And yet, LaBeouf doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo; he leans into every line like he’s starring in the 21st century’s response to “The Best Years of Our Lives.” If he’s ultimately powerless to make this film worth watching, his performance is a strong reminder that his work should never be taken for granted.

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