Wow, this movie was so much better than I expected. And you know why I expected it to be a “meh” kind of movie? Because the fucking marketing for this film is completely wrong. Let me guess, you think that most of the 2 hour run time is due to Megan Leavey trying to adopt her Marine war bomb sniffing dog and trying to overcome many obstacles to do it? WRONG. Spoiler alert: That’s the last 15 minutes of the film. This is more of a war movie than any of the trailers and TV spots are letting on. Some people have asked why the fuck this movie isn’t called A Dog’s Purpose, because it makes more sense other than that other Lifetime nonsense crap that came out in January. It’s because the movie is really about Megan Leavey. Sure the dog is in there a lot too, but it’s about Leavey’s personal journey to connect with another soul (that soul being the dog) and to find her place in life in an atmosphere that is almost too dark to see through.
And it’s a very, very good film. Not a masterpiece per say, there are better war films out there, but at my screening last night, there probably wasn’t a dry eye (out of happiness) in the theater, and that’s saying something. Kate Mara gives her best performance here since House of Cards, honestly this may be her best performance in anything to date because a lot of people consider her wooden, but she is anything but that here. The film is actually very entertaining for its subject matter, the pacing is near perfect, and the story flows fluidly from point A to B to C. At the beginning she is a troubled young adult, goes through Marine training and dog training, and comes out after an injury only to find out she connected with her bomb sniffing dogs soul. It’s actually quite touching, and it probably wouldn’t have worked with Mara or the dog.
Draco Malfoy…oh excuse me, Tom Felton shows up as a Marine that is an expert already in the field of dog bomb sniffing, and he is getting a good job trying to make a general audience forget he ever said the word “POTTER!” with such hatred. Common is pretty good as the overall leader of the dog bomb sniffing unit of the Marines, and Ramon Rodriguez shows up as a fellow Marine/love interest, and maybe the only part of the story that could’ve been cut out and had not made much of a difference. It would’ve been better if they had just been really good friends and not lovers. Also, I wonder if that part was shoe horned in to make the film longer, as it didn’t need to be. I’m going to look further into it, but if that did indeed happen, then I guess putting it in the film was okay.
I’m just looking at a picture of Megan Leavey right now, and holy shit does she look like Kate Mara, so the casting director did pretty well with her job for this movie. The movie also does a pretty good job with the overall tension of finding bombs and whether or not someone has a bomb on them or not. I have not felt that kind of tension since The Hurt Locker (still the better film) and I commend the movie for making me be on the edge of my seat during those scenes.
Overall, there are many movies like this one. Whether they work or not is another story. There are some that have worked, and many, MANY, that have not. I think the marketing of this film is ultimately going to hurt the audience that sees it, but Megan Leavey is one of those films that completely works during it’s two hour run time. I was entertained more than I thought I’d be, and was way more engaged with the emotional bond between Leavey and Rex than I thought I would be. While PG-13 this is I would consider a very good older family film. But probably not for kids under 10 years old. Highly recommend, it is better than it looks in previews. I guarantee it.