Sunday, June 18, 2017

Movie: Megan Leavey

Megan Leavey:  not your typical soldier flick.  This one is for dog lovers.  The film is based upon the actual experiences of a Marine corporal who was deployed to Iraq with a bomb sniffing dog named Rex.  At the beginning of the film, we meet Megan (Kate Mara) and get a glimpse of what her life was like prior to joining the Marines.  She is living with her mother (Edie Falco, who is probably quite unhappy with her one dimensional portrait) and stepfather (Will Patton, whose scenes are brief).  Once the film makes its point that pre-Marines Megan was adrift and having problems connecting with people, the story moves forward to boot camp.  Because Megan continues to mess up, she is assigned to kennel cleaning duty.  When we first meet Rex, he is an aggressive German Shepherd.   Rex is assigned to Megan after he disables his handler.  The storyline then progresses to Iraq.  The war scenes are well done and the film remains on track as to standard war storytelling.  If you’ve seen The Hurt Locker, this film, directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, offers a similar perspective on a very dangerous job.  However, the focus of this movie is on the developing relationship between Rex and Megan and their work together seeking out improvised explosive devices (IED).  It tracks Megan’s efforts to have Rex retired and transferred to her care following an incident in which Rex saves Megan’s life but Rex is also injured.   While Megan gets to retire, Rex is shipped to Afghanistan with a new handler.  It is the second half of this 116 minute movie that makes it worth your time to see this film.   Kate Mara is excellent throughout the film and is particularly believable in her pursuit of saving Rex.  Woven into the storyline is Megan’s relationship with a fellow dog handler (Ramon Rodriguez).  At the film’s conclusion there are snapshots of the real Megan and Rex.  An interesting side note is that in 2011, Rex’s first handler , Marine Corps Sgt. Mike Dowling, wrote Sergeant Rex: The Unbreakable Bond Between a Marine and His Military Working Dog.  Throughout the film, the primary focus remains on Megan and Rex as one of the first female led canine IED seeking teams in Iraq.  This is a well done tear jerker with a true story happy ending.


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