Megan Leavey – Film Review by Guttman

Megan Leavey: not your typical soldier flick. This one is for dog lovers.

Based on real life experiences of a Marine corporal who was deployed to Iraq with a bomb sniffing dog named Rex, we meet Megan (Kate Mara) and glimpse some of what her life was like prior to joining the Marines. She lives with her mother (Edie Falco, in a role that lacks dimension for someone who is so capable) and stepfather (Will Patton). So pre-Marine Megan was adrift and had problems connecting with people. The story moves forward to boot camp where Megan continues to mess up, and she is assigned to kennel cleaning duty.

We meet Rex, an aggressive German Shepherd assigned to Megan after he disables his handler. The story moves to Iraq where we witness some excellent war scenes. If you’ve seen The Hurt Locker, this film, directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, offers a similar perspective on a very dangerous job but the focus instead is on the developing relationship between Rex and Megan and their team work, seeking out improvised explosive devices (IED). In the course of duty, Rex saves Megan’s life but he is injured. At the end of her deployment Megan makes efforts to retire Rex and into her care Rex but he is shipped to Afghanistan with a new handler. It is the second half of this 116 minute movie that is worth your time. Kate Mara is excellent. At the film’s conclusion there are snapshots of the real Megan and Rex. An interesting side note is that in 2011, Rex’s first handler , Marine Corps Sgt. Mike Dowling, wrote “Sergeant Rex: The Unbreakable Bond Between a Marine and His Military Working Dog”. Throughout the film, the primary focus remains on Megan and Rex as one of the first female led canine IED seeking teams in Iraq. This film is well done, quite a tear jerker and a true story happy ending.

Steven Guttman

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