Film Review: Discerning the Heroes is Tough in ‘Megan Leavey’

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CHICAGO – The poster is what gives away “Megan Leavey” the most. The titular soldier, and her bomb-sniffing dog, below a billowing American flag. So which war is it? Why, it’s the Iraq invasion, where the U.S. military and the politicians at home “freed” the Iraqi citizens from a peaceful life. Making a dog story out of that boondoggle doesn’t make it any more palatable, except to “support the troops.”

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

Eventually the film feels like propaganda, because it takes aways all the nastiness of war – and its heinous injuries – and reduces it to platitudes about a girl and her dog. This is based-on-truth, as they say, and adding in uncomfortable working class scenarios about the soldier’s family can’t save the observation that the film is exploitative regarding the real Megan’s life. Surprisingly, there was a similar film about a bomb-sniffing dog in Iraq called “Max” (2015), but that was more of a family fable, and never showed the scenes of war. The in-country stuff in “Megan” seems so inauthentic that they shouldn’t have bothered, and any reference to a “Hadji” (as American soldiers referred to their Iraqi “enemies”) is downright unbearable. Have you become comfortably numb to that war?

Megan Leavey (Kate Mara) leaves behind a difficult family life to join the Marines during the Iraq conflict era. She finds her home in the service, but after doing some clean up duty in the dog pens on Camp Pendleton – they trained dogs there for bomb sniffing duties in Iraq – she desires to be added to the Military Police K9 unit. She succeeds in that goal, but is given the hardest-to-train dog in the collective, a German Shepard named Rex.

The two are determined to work together, and form an unshakeable bond. The dog’s duties begin when Corporal Megan and Rex are shipped to Iraq, while she and fellow solider Matt Morales (Ramón Rodríguez) develop a romance. Meanwhile, Rex sniffs out some danger on a routine patrol, but the dog and his handler are injured in the subsequent blast. Shipped back home, Megan wants to adopt the Shepard that sheparded her.

”Megan Leavey” opens nationwide on June 9th. Featuring Kate Mara, Tom Felton, Bradley Whitford, Common, Edie Falco, Will Patton and Ramón Rodríguez. Written by Pamela Gray, Annie Mumolo, Jordan Roberts and Tom Lovestadt. Directed by Gabriela Cowperwaite. Rated “PG-13”

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Megan Leavey”

Megan1
The Soldier (Kate Mara) and Her Dog in ‘Megan Leavey’
Photo credit: Bleecker Street Media

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Megan Leavey”

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