MEGAN LEAVEY – A Review by Cynthia Flores
Don't let the PG-13 rating fool you Megan Leavey has some pretty gritty and realistic War scenes. It's also unusual that a movie about war is created by mostly women. It’s directed by a woman and written by two women and a man. If you stop and think about it, it makes perfect sense to have a mostly woman team tell this story about a truly brave female soldier.
Megan Leavey is based on the true-life story of a young Marine corporal who served as a Military Police K9 Handler. Her bond with her military combat dog Rex saved many lives during their deployment in Iraq. They saw their share of combat together.
In the film, we first meet Megan (Kate Mara) in Valley Cottage New York where she enlisted in the Marines behind her mother’s back. Her mother Jackie (Edie Falco) left her husband Bob (Brad Whitford) for his best friend. Megan joins the Marines to get away from her crazy home life, her small town, and to try to figure out what she's about. We find out she's been a little lost ever since the death of her best friend in high school and has just been floundering.
Once she finishes basic training she goes out with her friends to celebrate and has a little too much fun at the bar which lands her in trouble. She is put on poop duty at Camp Pendleton cleaning up after the military working dogs. It's during this time that she first meets a hard to handle and very aggressive K9 military dog named Rex. She’s intrigued by the whole K9 training and requests that Gunnery Sergeant Massey (Common) allows her to join the department. He instantly sees the lost soul that she is and doesn't think she has what it would take to do such a difficult job. He tells her she has to meet a number of requirements including becoming a marksman. Instead of quitting Megan sets her mind to check off everything on his list and request assignment to his division again. Gunnery Massey decides to take a chance on her and this is where the story really picks up because she is paired, against her will, with Rex who really does scare her at first. They both go through rigorous training and received instructions from people like Andrew Dean (Tom Felton) who’s a veteran dog handler and has seen action with his dog.
Megan and Rex serve two deployments in Iraq together. They were first deployed to Fallujah and then to Ramadi where they're both wounded by an improvised explosive device. I don't want to give away too much because I want you to actually go see this film and enjoy it but suffice it to say, this part of the movie showing these two soldiers working together and doing their part is very exciting.
While she’s on duty she has a relationship with Corporal Matt Morales (Ramon Rodriguez) and everything is fine until she and Rex are injured on one of their Patrols. Megan is sent back to the States and once she is healed up decides that two tours of duty is enough and she needs to get out of the Marines.
The last part of the film deals with the post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, that Megan works through with the love of her father and by going to group meetings. Her heart still longs for her dog Rex and when she finds out that he's been marked as unadoptable after his service she’s heartbroken. A friend lets her know that Rex has been serving overseas honorably but because he developed facial palsy his bomb-sniffing duties or now over. They were going to bring him back and award him a medal before he is put down. Megan decides to fight for him and her right to adopt him so he can live out what's left of his life as a loved and pampered civilian dog. She gathers signatures on a petition, goes on television shows, and talks to anybody that will listen. She even asks for the help and intervention of Senator Chuck Schumer on Rex’s Behalf. I won't tell you how it ends so you go and watch the film. Notice I want you to go see this movie.
Megan Leavey is not a war movie in the vein of Zero Dark Thirty or Saving Private Ryan. It is however a really touching film about a brave soldier and her dog. I actually like the fact that the film doesn’t glorify war. Instead, it chooses to glorify the sacrifices of our US soldiers both human and canine. Kate Mara, as Megan, gives a tightly wound performance as a solder that prefers the company of dogs to humans. And you can tell by the heavy hitters in the rest of the cast like Edie Falco, Common, and Bradley Whitford that this is a story they wanted to support.
So step out of the heat this summer and into a nice cold movie theater to enjoy this film that puts a spotlight on the honorable service of our military through the true story of Megan Leavey and a dog named Rex.
Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Written By Pamela Gray, Annie Mumolo, Tim Lovestedt
Selig Rating B+
Running Time 1hr 56min
Drama /Biography / War
Wide Release June 9th
Starring: Kate Mara, Edie Falco, Common, Ramon Rodriquez, Tom Felton, Bradley Whitford