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Hollywood latest Movie “Megan Leavey” (2017) Review

 Hollywood latest Movie “Megan Leavey” (2017) Review

“They're not even dogs anymore. They're warriors, and they come back with all the same issues we do.”

“Megan Leavey” (2017):

Per my own obligations, while I have nothing much to say about “Megan Leavey”, I will attempt to construct a little something for it as the film is decent. It’s not remarkable, nor is the storytelling all that inspired, which seems a little odd considering the film appears to aim to be that very thing.

Before moving on with the review, consider the following:

1. Do you love/like dogs?

2. Do you love/like dogs that perform dangerously heroic acts to help protect their masters in war-torn foreign lands?

3. Do you like underdog outsiders that join the military to get away from their current dead-end lifestyles and befriend military K-9s to form stronger bonds than they would have with most fellow humans?

If you answered “Yes” either emphatically or passively to at least 2 of those questions, you are likely to get some enjoyment out of “Megan Leavey”. Like I said before, the movie is fine and I stand by that, but if you have seen the trailer, you have essentially seen the whole film trimmed down from two hours to two minutes.
Megan Leavey (Kate Mara) is a young woman from a rural town and does not exactly get along with her mother, father, step-father - well, anybody. After her best friend passes away, she finds herself in a deeply unmotivated slump and cannot keep even the simplest of jobs due to lack of giving a damn. Feeling like she’s run out of options, Megan decides to try her hand at the Marines for a fresh take on life and some new scenery.

Megan survives boot camp and begins taking heavy interest in the Marines’ K-9 division that trains German Shepherds and other various breeds to sniff out bombs and landmines over in Iraq. Eventually, Megan gets assigned to Rex, a German Shepherd with a bit of an attitude problem towards other soldiers, but seems to connect with Leavey. The two get deployed to Iraq and make quite the team until a deeply buried bomb catches both of them off-guard and causes some serious injuries. While Megan is forced to leave active duty for a stretch, Rex gets re-assigned, causing Leavey to slip back into the same slump she was in before meeting Rex. Once she learns that Rex has become seriously ill during active duty, Megan does everything she can think of to have Rex retired so he can live out whatever time he has left at her side.

I mentioned just recently in my review for “Testament of Youth” that war biographies are particularly difficult to translate to film because of the typical expansiveness of the story at hand and the limited timeframe it all has to be jammed into. The smart direction “Megan Leavey” takes is that it trains its focus on Leavey and Rex and does not expand outside that circle too much. Yes, usually it is a complaint that character backstory is sacrificed for one reason or another, but in this case, Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite did not see the need to do so because that’s not really the tone the film was trying to achieve. From Megan’s perspective, her home life sucked, and while the narrative does travel back to that place a few different times simply to remind the audience of that to make Leavey’s relationship with Rex that much more vital, it doesn’t bother with the “Why” her home life sucks other than her parents appearing insensitive at times. In fact, it’s not too difficult to side with them on occasion and see Megan as the immature one in the equation.

As I reflect on “Leavey”, I don’t feel that the film suffers from any major flaws. Mara does what she can to carry it all since the secondary characters are ultimately forgettable, which is unfortunate considering Leavey develops a short-term romance along the way and that makes it not stick too well, and while I would argue that this not her best performance to date, she does have charisma and chemistry where it matters the most. Again, the storytelling is pretty by-the-book vanilla, and though Cowperthwaite can conduct a decent action scene to help spice it up a bit, it wouldn’t be too difficult to find similar and more captivating shots elsewhere.

So, yeah, that’s really about it. I’m not going to go accusing “Megan Leavey” of not having any heart because it certainly does have shades of that, along with some laughs and grey sky moments. This is also a far cry from previous directing efforts Cowperthwaite has done in the past – namely documentaries, including one of the best films of 2013, in my opinion, with “Blackfish”. Still, one has to recognize the difficulty of such a transition in genre, and this not a terrible attempt at that by any means.

Recommended for all the canine fans out there.
“Megan Leavey”: 7/10

Home Media: The Blu-Ray combo is currently $20 on Amazon. Definitely rent first, buy later.
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