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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Dan's Review: "Megan Leavy" a dog story worth telling

Jun 01, 2017 10:28AM ● By Dan Metcalf

Kate Mara in Megan Leavy - © 2017 Bleeker Street.

Megan Leavy (Bleeker Street)

Rated PG-13 for war violence, language, suggestive material, and thematic elements.

Starring Kate Mara, Edie Falco, Common, Ramón Rodríguez, Tom Felton, Damson Idris, Shannon Tarbet, Bradley Whitford, Alex Hafner, Will Patton, Parker Sawyers, Corey Weaver.

Written by Pamela Gray, Annie Mumolo, Tim Lovestedt and Jordan Roberts.

Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite.



War movies present a strange relationship with viewers. On the one hand, we all know “war is Hell,” but on the other hand, movies about this awful activity are often entertaining (if done well). Should we be entertained by such things? War is the backdrop for Megan Leavy, the (somewhat) true story of a Marine corporal and her bomb-sniffing dog Rex.

Kata Mara plays the title role of Leavy, a young woman who joins the military out of desperation to get away from her rudderless life, boorish mother (Edie Falco) and shabby stepdad (Will Patton). After basic training, Leavy is assigned to the dog unit at Camp Pendleton, where she is eventually assigned to work with Rex, a German Shepard with aggressiveness issues. The pair are shipped off to Iraq, where they work to clear roads and sniff out bombs. During one mission, the pair are injured by an improvised explosive device (IED). Megan ships back to the states, where she decides against reenlistment. Rex is reassigned to another soldier, but eventually becomes sick from his injuries. Megan tries to adopt Rex, but runs into all kinds of military red tape. After making public pleas and pressuring lawmakers, she eventually gains some hope to be reunited with her hero dog and best friend.

Megan Leavy is less of a war movie and more of a heart-warming story of love between a lost soul and her four-legged comrade. The war scenes are intense (if not a little exaggerated), but that relationship shines through some of the sloppy details and peripheral characters that seem superfluous to the story. Some characters seem especially forced, like Common as the tough Camp Pendleton dog unit commander, Tom Felton as a veteran dog handler and Ramón Rodríguez as a love interest. Edie Falco’s performance as Megan’s insensitive mother is certainly effective, if not grating in the nerves.

Other messy details get in the way of the narrative (like fake newspaper headlines and the dog that seems much more interested in the off-screen trainer than with Mara), but these flaws do not keep Megan Leavy from shedding light on the human and animal soldiers who risk their lives for others.

Additionally, if you love dogs and the U.S. military, Megan Leavy will stay close to your heart.

Meagan Leavy Trailer