Genre: Biography, Drama, War
Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Starring: Kate Mara, Common, Bradley Whitford, Edie Falco, Tom Felton, Ramon Rodriguez
Run Time: 1hr 56mins
True stories have been present as long as fictional stories, but as Hollywood begins its trend of remakes lately, it seems that most of the original content is coming from true stories. From war films to human dramas, I find that some of the best original concepts come from stories that really happened. Megan Leavey is yet another film to follow this trend, and I have to say, this is a great movie. Sure, it has its flaws like anything else, but when you can tell that the filmmakers are trying very hard to do the story justice, it leaps off the screen and may bring you to tears. This is a very well made movie and here is why you should give it a watch, now that it’s hitting theatres.
Knowing not what to do with her life, young Megan Leavey embarks on a mission to join the army. Realizing that her calling is to train to work with dogs who sniff out bombs, drugs, and guns throughout the war, a strong bond begins to flourish between her and her companion Rex. If there’s any bit of you that can buy into this aspect of the film, then I promise that you will be emotionally moved by the final act. Yes, everything is predictable, because you question why they would’ve made the movie otherwise, but it’s so well made that you can easily look past that aspect. Fighting for the right to adopt Rex after a certain incident occurs, this film fills itself with emotional depth, making for a very satisfying experience.
I’ve read many reviews that seem divisive on the talent that Kate Mara brings to the table, but this is easily the best performance I’ve ever seen her deliver. I’ve never watched an interview or really looked up how the real-life heroin acted, but as far as performance goes, Kate Mara was one of the best choices for this part. Everyone has certain roles that they’re born to play, and while this role may not go down in history or even be remembered, I’ll definitely find myself reflecting on it as I think of her work. Mara’s performance alone is what got me as invested in this story as I was, which was also due to the casting of Ramon Rodríguez as her love interest and work companion, Matt Morales.
While this is definitely about animals and right around the world, this is also a very touching human story that cares about relationships and characters. Although Kate Mara plays off the dog very naturally, Ramon Rodríguez was easily my favorite secondary portion of the film, because his presence elevated the emotional impact that Megan goes through throughout the film. It may not be the best film I’ve ever seen structurally, but in terms of emotion, it really did hit me. This is a very human story, and if you can invest yourself in it from the start, you may find yourself enjoying it as much as I did.
In the end, Megan Leavey is exactly the movie you think it is if you’ve seen any of the promotional material. It definitely has its few moments of sappiness, but it also embraces them and delivers them in a way that may be unexpected to some viewers. This is a very effective movie and my only complaint is that it’s far too long. This movie could’ve been told at a brisk and powerful 90 minutes, but padding it out to two hours felt like a bit of a stretch. This is a movie that I believe many families and dog lovers can enjoy, because of the way everything is presented. Yes, the film can be sad, but it’s a happy kind of sad if that makes any sense. If you’ve yet to check this film out, I recommend checking it out.