Janet W., Here…
Bye Lassie…Bye Benji…Bye to my childhood doggie heroes. There’s a new action star in town. Max (Carlos) is the cleverest doggie hero ever. A Belgian Malinois, Max, is also a Marine service dog. Finally a film is brought that brings sincere tribute to the heroism and struggles these beautiful yet fierce animals endure. Max opens in a desert terrain shot as from Max’s point of view. As Max searches out the village the camera for insurgents and a weapons stash. Max is highly adept to weapons’ discovery and of course successful in warning his team of Marines of insurgents. Kyle (Robbie Amell) is Max’s handler. The two are inseparable.
Tragedy strikes, as Tyler (Luke Kleintank), against Max’s warning, orders Kyle to urge Max to proceed. Tyler is a longtime friend and fellow serviceman of Kyle’s. An insurgent blows two bombs on each side of the road. Kyle runs after Max and is killed. –No worries, parents, how Kyle is killed is not shown. The loss of Kyle and the explosions from the attack leave Max traumatized to the point that he can no longer service in the war. He attacks people, even those who formally trained him, and no one can manage him. Enter Kyle’s family, comprised of Kyle’s father, Ray (Thomas Haden Church), mother, Pamela (Lauren Graham), and brother, Justin (Josh Wiggins). Justin is your typical rebellious younger brother type. He is as blunt as a spoon, too. He resents that Kyle left to be a soldier.
At Kyle’s funeral, Max drags two Marines up the aisle to Kyle’s casket. Max stands on his hind legs, paws on the casket in a way that will make tears well up in your eyes. Then Max lies down in front of Kyle’s casket and the floodgates open. As the Marines try to remove him, Max picks up a friendly scent from Justin. With Justin, Max is calm and compliant. The moment Justin parts from Max, he becomes rabid. The decision comes that Max must be put down. Reyes (Jay Hernandez) has the great idea that perhaps Max is meant to be with Justin. Will their friendship work?
The actors make solid performances in Max. However, Carlos steals the show time and time again. The things this dog does is on par with action stars like Matt Damon, Chris Hemsworth, Jason Statham, and I’d even add iconic action stars like Bruce Willis, Denzel Washington, and Liam Neeson. He’s clever, resourceful, and has a heart that does not stop. The list could easily go on. Boaz Yakin’s, the director, vision of Max is savvy as well as lethal. Carlos makes you believe it.
Max is a terrific adventure for the whole family. The film is rated PG and is family-friendly. You will fall in love with Carlos. I hope that he is used in future films, because the stunts he performed were amazing. The bond between Max and Justin is awe-inspiring. The cinematography is brilliant in the manner of which it provides a dog eye view of the world. Literally shot on Max’s level as though you are looking through his eyes or the eyes of his canine enemies. Buckle in, because Max is a thrilling ride as well as an emotional one. Nothing is more beautiful than a family coming together. In closing, we should always honor our soldiers, humans, animals, and even insects if you can believe it. It is wonderful to see their service being esteemed.
5 out of 5 Stars
– Janet L. White