Megan Leavey

(2017)

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Title:
Megan Leavey
Release Date:
9th June 2017
Runtime:
116 min
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Genres:
Directors:
Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Writers:
Annie Mumolo, Pamela Gray
Languages:
English
Stream Quality:
1080p / 720p / 480p

Storyline

Based on the true life story of a young Marine corporal whose unique discipline and bond with her military combat dog saved many lives during their deployment in Iraq. When she is assigned to clean up the K9 unit after a disciplinary hearing, Leavey identifies with a particularly aggressive dog, Rex, and is given the chance to train him. Over the course of their service, Megan and Rex completed more than 100 missions until an IED explosion injures them, putting their fate in jeopardy.

Ratings

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 81%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience 86%
IMDb Rating 7.0

Casts

Common as Gunny Martin
Geraldine James as Dr. Turbeville
Kate Mara as Megan Leavey
Tom Felton as Andrew Dean

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Dave McClain ([email protected]) 11th June, 2017

"Megan Leavey" (PG-13, 1:56) is technically a bio-pic about a U.S. Marine serving as an MP during the Iraq War, but what it's really about is that Marine's relationship with her partner, a military working dog named Rex. Throughout history, militaries, such as the Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, Britons, Romans and Americans, used canines in a variety of roles, such as in combat as attack dogs, and as hunters, trackers, searchers, scouts, guards, sentries, messengers, mascots and therapy dogs. Military working dogs in K9 units are assigned a specific handler, with whom the dog bonds, trains, serves and, when necessary, protects. The special relationship between such dogs and their handlers has been portrayed in various forms in movies like 2017's "A Dog's Purpose" and 2015's "Max", which mirrors the real-life story of a dog named Lex, who went to live with the family of his handler after the handler was killed in Iraq. An increasing number of military working dogs are adopted by their handlers after the military deems the dogs' military service complete and retires the dog from active duty, but it hasn't always been that way. "Megan Leavey" is the true story of a U.S. Marine's bond with her dog and her long fight to adopt him. Megan (Kate Mara) was drifting. After high school, she had no purpose in life. She lived with her mother (Edie Falco) and stepfather (Will Patton), but didn't actually do much of anything, especially after her best friend died from a drug overdose. Seemingly on a whim, Megan joins the Marine Corps. After she completes basic training, she is trained as an MP, but her lack of self-discipline is still a problem and she quickly gets in trouble with her commander. Her punishment (or "corrective training", as the military calls it) is to work for a hard-nosed Marine called Gunny Martin (Common), cleaning out the kennels of the military working dogs. Megan develops an interest in the K9 unit, but she has to convince Gunny Martin of her reliability and dedication, so she is given an ammo can attached to a rope which she is forced to pretend is a dog on a leash that she puts through its paces on a K9 training course. When a handler preparing for deployment is bitten by his dog, Private First Class Leavey is ordered to step in. With little time left before that scheduled deployment to Iraq, Megan works hard to train up, complete Rex's training and bond with her new partner. Rex is known as a very difficult and aggressive dog, but Megan manages to tame the savage beast and they end up making an effective and respected team while serving in combat. Megan and Rex are called upon to patrol ahead of everyone else in an effort to find IEDs before they can harm American troops. After some success, Megan and Rex get separated. She begins to work tirelessly to find Rex and, ultimately, to get permission to adopt and care for him. In the midst of all this, Megan works through challenging relationships with Gunny Martin, a K9 unit mentor (Tom Felton), a flirty fellow dog handler (Ramon Rodriguez), her clueless mother and stepfather and her birth father (Bradley Whitford), but all the while, Megan's biggest concern is her relationship with Rex. "Megan Leavey" is a solid and touching, but slight movie. The script by Pamela Gray ("A Walk on the Moon"), Oscar nominee Annie Mumolo ("Bridesmaids") and Tim Lovestedt (co-writing his first film), and the direction of Gabriela Cowperthwaite ("Blackfish"), give us a realistic look at military life and combat deployments, while keeping the focus mainly on the affecting relationship between Megan and Rex. The subplots of Megan's human relationships give us a good picture of who she is as a person and are well-balanced from a story-telling perspective. But in the final analysis, this is still "just" a story about one Marine and one dog, presented as if similar situations had not happened before or since (which they have). The writing, acting and directing are all strong and produce a film which many Movie Fans will appreciate, especially those interested in military life and those who love four-footed heroes. "B"

Reviewed by scatswalsh 11th June, 2017

Not Your Typical War Hero

Part way through I began to feel the story was a bit slow moving, maybe a little flat. I realized this is not an indictment of the film, but of Americans' movie going habits. Everything these days is a blockbuster - LOTS of action, tons of special effects, one- dimensional super hero characters. Megan Leavey is a quiet, understated film about real life and real people, and they are not always pleasant, exciting or interesting. If you like your war heroes shiny, perfect and larger than life - this film will not be for you. Megan Leavey is about a flawed, troubled, not very likable young woman who joins the Marines with no heroic idealism - she is just looking for an escape from her miserable life - made so very much by her own doing. And Rex is not Lassie. There is no instant, feel-good bond between a girl and her dog. Rather, the story illustrates the importance of showing up - taking one step at a time, and that with hard work and patience - redemption and second chances are possible. Not an easy feel-good film but worth the effort, as is true of most important things in life.

Reviewed by rgkarim 10th June, 2017

Don't Leavey Your Tissues Behind! Solid Portrayal of Military Bonding

This weekend is certainly a mixed bag of movies from adventure/fantasy to horror/mystery. So why not throw in a military/biographical/drama into the fray as well, this time portraying a different, and more realistic, female super hero. If you are reading past my confusing opening, (and the title of this review), you know I'm talking about Megan Leavey. With leash, and gun, in hand, this movie is the chronicle of her walk into the life of a hero and the struggles she had to climb over to succeed. What's the verdict? You'll have to read on to find out! LIKES: Acting: Kate Mara was a fantastic pick for the lead of this movie. Based on Leavey's history (from the little research I've done), Mara was able to play the emotional rainbow required of this complicated role. The angst of a rebellious young adult is perfectly portrayed, with enough saucy edge to keep things spicy, while only going over the line occasionally. Yet, the real portrayal of her talents is her acting of honor, valor, and trauma that comes with being a real-life hero. You'll feel all the emotional turmoil, or in some cases lack of emotional turmoil, associated with marine life and the sense of duty before self. Many audience members became entangled in all the feelings of the movie, captivating them in the story. Good Pace: We know that many military dramas are a little long winded, whether in build up or the tail end of the spectrum. Not the case for Megan Leavey. This movie keeps things moving quite well, blending excitement, suspense, and character development in a decently condensed time. The training portion of the movie is funny and heartwarming as bond between dog and human is formed, adequately building what will be the key foundation for the rest of the movie. Once the exciting deployment begins, the tension only surmounts and keeps one further fastened into the movie, constantly reeled in with each ticking minute as they perform their duty. It's engaging! It's exciting! And it is real! The Dog: Let's face it though, the best part of this movie for most is going to be getting to see the dog or dogs trained to sniff out bombs. Megan Leavey may be a tale about a woman transforming into a hero, but the director also does extraordinary work with the developing the dog's status as a warrior itself. Watching Rex perform all the duties required of him is awesome, feeling like a human actor himself rather than a four-legged accessory. If you think Mara is the emotional lure in the film, then yes you are correct, but that would make Rex the lighthouse of emotions drawing you more into the flame of this movie. Watching Rex with the consistent worry that something will happen is the true suspense of this movie, I myself silently praying he would make it home alive. DISLIKES: Movie magic drama: We know that when it comes to describing drama, many films can exaggerate the truth. While I'm not certain how tough Megan's life was, this movie had many moments and characters that felt a little overdramatic to me. I'm not talking about the war aspect, we know that's hell. No, the real overacted moments come in the form of her family life, primarily the interaction with her mom. Eye-rolling moments aside, fans who like these overzealous characters are in for a treat, but it hit some nerves and took away from the movie. The Final Act: Megan Leavey's film is split into three parts for me and the first two parts are epically put together to keep the film exciting. The third part however, is more on the slower side and not the area I would have spent a great deal of time on. I can't say much without ruining things, but here it goes. This finale is certainly emotional, well designed, and a fine example of character development. However, the pace changes at this part, doesn't focus on the chemistry I fell in love with. Yes, it's emotional, and the parts are well put together, I just wanted a little more time with the dog and woman. Theater Worthy?: This is a tough component because there is a lot about this movie I like. However, I can't say the movie was really something that needed to be in theaters. With few special effects and stunts, and a story that, while touching, isn't an epic, adventure/book like drama that Hollywood theaters have captured. Instead, this movie would have been solid on the History Channel or a Netflix original movie where you could enjoy it in the comfort of your own home. So, don't behead me people, I'm just trying to save you some money to maximize the quality of the film. The VERDICT: Megan Leavey is one of the better military drams I've seen in a while. A fantastic chemistry between man and dog uniting to portray the honor of military service is a leading factor to see this movie. With emotional sequences captured by beautiful cinematography and epic acting, you'll find this at the top of a lot of drama loving lists. Yet, it still lacks some finesse in terms of perfect pace and even more lacks the theater quality effects that make the expensive ticket worthwhile, unless you get the discount show. Still it is a movie worth checking out when you can, to pay tribute to an honorable woman, her dog, and the heroes that are our military. Biography/Drama/War: 8.5 Movie Overall: 6.5

Reviewed by easkeen 31st May, 2017

The story of the bond between humans & animals....

My husband and I were fortunate to attend a premier of this movie last night and we really enjoyed it much more than expected. Although it was meaningful in that my own daughter was a Marine and of course the scenes at graduation ceremony in Parris Island brought back so many memories...but it was her loyalty to this dog and the way they were able to capture it on film that endured me. Despite all the odds against her, she was NOT going to let this dog perish in the system. He deserved better and she fought to make sure he got better. THAT is a beautiful thing!

Reviewed by rannynm 21st May, 2017

Very enjoyable exploration of emotional bond between a human and animal

I really enjoyed this film. It explores the emotional bond between an animal and a human being. The film is based on the true story of marine corporal who forms a unique bond with a bomb-sniffing dog. Megan Leavey (Kate Mara) enlists to get away from what seems to be a hopeless civilian life. She is an aimless young woman with a deadbeat mom, Jackie (Edie Falco). Megan struggles to fit in as a Marine and, after a disciplinary hearing due to misappropriate behavior, is caught urinating outside of the Provost office after a night of drinking. She is assigned to clean up the K- 9 unit under the command of Gunny Martin (Common). Gunny Martin is a commander who uses tough love while being a mentor. My favorite scene in the movie is when Megan finds out that she will get a dog to train and it turns out to be a can. It seems that newbies practice training a dog with a can. It is a bit humorous but shows Megan's determination to get a real dog. Megan bonds with an aggressive German shepherd name Rex and is given the opportunity to train him. Megan and Rex end up completing more than 100 missions, but an IED explosion injures them both and puts their fate in jeopardy. Megan Leavey has lots of wartime violence, strong language and intense themes including trauma and grief. It also shows the strength of women and their accomplishments while not focusing on the brutality of war. This is an inspiring film that I believe is most suited for ages 13 to 18 as well as some adults. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars. It opens nationwide June 9, 2017 so, be sure to go see it and learn what happens to Megan and Rex. Reviewed by Juanita Seon L. KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror.