New Movie, Max, Honors Military Dogs

By Michelle Hutchinson

Belgian Malinois

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In today’s complex world, sometimes it’s hard to know whom you can trust. That was not the case for fictional Marine Corporal Kyle Wincott and his bomb/gun/ammo-sniffing military dog, Max, in the aptly named Warner Bros. movie, Max, which is scheduled to open in theaters tomorrow. Due to connections to a network of veterans, I had the opportunity to attend a screening of the film last night.

Kyle (Robbie Amell) and Max are inseparable…until Kyle, while accompanied by his platoon and Max, is killed during a mission in Afghanistan. After witnessing the violent loss of his Marine buddy, Max, just like a human best friend, experiences post-traumatic stress syndrome. The military can no longer trust this dog of war in the field.

Separated from active duty, Max is adopted by Kyle’s family back in the states and becomes the responsibility of Kyle’s surly, teenage brother, Justin (Josh Wiggins). A bit of a troublemaker and with a chip on his shoulder for being expected to live up to the image of his brother, Justin, at first, resents his new role as Max’s dog handler. However, with the help of his friend, Carmen (Mia Xitlali), who has experience training dogs, Justin forges a connection with Max.

The real story, however, doesn’t begin until about 45 minutes into the movie, when Tyler (Luke Kleintank), a high school friend who was on the front line with Kyle and Max the day Kyle was killed, returns to the Wincotts’ hometown. Tyler is hiding secrets about his life back home and his time at war. Max wants to make sure the truth comes out. Unfortunately, those efforts get Max sent to the town’s animal control center to be put down.

The screenplay, written by Boaz Yakin and Sheldon Lettich, really tugs at your heart. Yakin also directed the picture, and Max (a real dog named Carlos) is probably the best actor among the cast. His expressive face and postures run the gamut from sad and lonely to aggressive and mean. My only fault with this film, other than how long it takes to get to the meat of the story, is a scene in which Justin, Max, Carmen, and another friend of Justin’s, Chuy (Dejon LaQuake), well on the trail of the bad guys and discovering the truth, find themselves in danger in an isolated area. Justin sends Carmen back to town to get help, but shortly after she leaves, Chuy’s cell phone rings. If they had a cell phone with them, why didn’t they use that to summon help?

Despite that fault, if you are up for a movie that honors dogs of war, Max will be a nice outing for you and your kids. You might even want to save your viewing for the July 4th weekend and make it one big patriotic celebration.

Have you seen Max? When you do, come back, click on “Leave a comment,” and let us know what you thought.

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