The movie Megan Leavey opens in theaters June 9 but as former military and an AT&T subscriber I was invited to an early screening of the movie on May 30 for free to mark National Military Appreciation Month. In addition to being a U.S. Army Veteran (76-79) I was also an Army Brat to a career (43-70) US Army E.O.D. (Explosives Ordinance for non military) and am a dog lover also, so a movie about a bomb sniffing dog caught my attention as I was watching the trailers, announcements, and snippets of the plot line leading up to release.
I’m looking forward to it until I get a preview trailer which contains an interview with a male in the film where he says how wonderful it was to work on a film “with so many women” with “wonderful energy” (a women overcoming bias film, I’m sure). The Director goes on to say there are many war films depicting male marines and few with women. And this is where I go I go DUH. Since the first Gulf War 97% of combat deaths and casualties have been men and they compose over 90% of US Veterans. And previously men fought all wars with very few female combatants. Ironically I posted a piece about female specific services and the lack of MALE specific services in my memorial Day piece, “Do we support our troops”. Now I’m thinking I’m headed to a PC “women overcoming adversity and hostile men” piece of work.
I was pleasantly surprised as I found the movie to be a nice piece of linear story telling which wasn’t in any form preachy or judgemental. The movie opens to a young person (who just happens to be a female), from divorced parents, who is coming of age and wondering what to do with her life. Deciding to enlist in the Marines she carries her bad habits with her until she finds the canine program, and this is where we meet the dog, “Rex”. Here she encounters the reality of life, to achieve (anything) requires setting goals and objectives and a commitment to succeed.
We follow her to her deployment in a war zone, having to face the unknown. She has the “what did I get myself into” and “I’m not ready for this” thoughts that I’m sure every young person has when they first start to make their own decisions for themselves, then have to either suffer the consequences or reap the rewards of their decisions. Here again the movie isn’t preachy but sticks to the story line presenting issues as the normal course of life.
The story line continues to post deployment where Leavey tries to arrange to have Rex evaluated to allow her to adopt him when he is no longer being used by the military. Again there is no preaching and the story line shows all perspectives in why things are being done the way they are. There is no glossing over the challenges she has to face, nor is there a demonization of the people who make decisions counter to her wishes.
I found the story line believable. The interactions of her and her family showed the stresses divorce play upon children and the and the actions and dialogue of parents believable. The training and conduct of the military personnel was also believable, as were the war scenes, which showed the dangers of military deployment without being overly graphic. The dangers, and rewards, of military service were portrayed factually.
If you are looking for a movie which speaks to the issue of women in the draft, women in combat, or the downtrodden female overcoming patriarchal adversity, this isn’t it so if you’re looking for a PC movie – stay home. Also, it isn’t a “blockbuster” nor is it set to be a classic cleaning up the Oscars. It is a nice little film with a good story line which you can take your teenagers to, enjoy together, and maybe open up some discussion about life itself and their decisions for their future. If you are looking for a good coming of age war story with a dog as the co-star, this is it. And if nothing else, you have to like the dog.
Megan Leavey Opens in theaters today, June 9, 2017. More on “Rotten Tomato” here.
And at the end of the movie I say … and 4 of 5 stars.