Rated: PG-13 for war violence, language, suggestive material, and thematic elements. Reviewed by: Chris Release date: June 9, 2017 Released by: Bleecker Street Media
Based on a true story, it's an account of one of the first female-led K-9 teams in charge of uncovering weapons and explosives in Iraq.
In the opening, we meet Megan (Kate Mara) an unhappy young woman living with her mother (Edie Falco) and stepfather. She sleeps late, fights with her mother and has no real direction for a career. Almost on a whim, she enlists in the Marine Corps and after going to boot camp, she trains to be a K-9 handler.
Megan is a loner and since she's the only woman in the unit, she keeps mostly to herself. Bunking alone in a separate room and showering at an earlier time than the men, she has little interaction with the rest of the troop.
After pestering Commanding Officer Martin (Common) for her own dog to work with, he finally assigns Rex to her. He's a German Shepherd with a volatile personality. In fact, Megan gets the dog when he gives his original handler a nasty bite on the hand. At first, she's afraid of him, who growls whenever she approaches him. But, soon she's spending time talking to him and working with him for hours until Rex becomes a dog she can trust.
They're deployed to Ramadi, Iraq where their job is to have Rex sniff out IED's and weapons and for Megan to red flag them so the rest of her team can avoid them and be safe. After being in Iraq for a few months, Megan and Rex are sent ahead to check out a car in the middle of the desert. The driver had driven up fast and didn't respond to the directions from the rest of her team. When they approach the car, it explodes and Megan and Rex are injured.
Megan is sent home for rehab and Rex goes to the training camp to be treated for his injuries. Being away from her dog, makes it difficult for Megan to cope. She spends the rest of the film trying to be able to adopt the dog that she's learned to love.
Mara is so good that she takes a role that could be a tearjerker and makes it real and meaningful. The dog gives her just what she needs in her life and she gives him the love and attention that he needs. However, it's not just a sweet film about their affection for one another. Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite gives us an interesting look at what a dog and its trainer go through to prepare for war and then how that training is used in a war setting.
I enjoy learning something from a film, and I found out about these heroic animals and the heroic soldiers who train them and then work beside them under very dangerous conditions.