Dan's Review: "Max" is one dog of a movie
Jun 26, 2015 12:55AM ● Published by Dan Metcalf
Josh Wiggins in Max - © 2015 - Warner Bros.
Max (Warner Bros.)
Rated PG for action violence, peril, brief language and some thematic elements.
Starring Josh Wiggins, Dejon LaQuake, Thomas Haden Church, Robbie Amell, Lauren Graham, Luke Kleintank, Jay Hernandez, Miles Mussenden, Mia Xitlali, Joseph Julian, Owen Harn, Walid Hakim.
Written by Boaz Yakin and Sheldon Lettich.
Directed by Boaz Yakin.
Dogs are the embodiment of unconditional love. When they give you “that face,” the one with those brown eyes full of trust and devotion, there’s almost nothing people won’t do for them. Some dogs are heroes, too. Max is a movie about a heroic military dog that suffers from PTSD and tries to assimilate into family life after suffering tragedy in the Iraq War.
The story involves a U.S. Marine named Kyle Wincott who is a dog handler to Max, a German Shepard trained to sniff out war hazards like bombs and other weapons during the Iraq War. On the home front, Kyle’s younger teen brother Justin (Josh Wiggins) is less than thrilled with his hero brother and the dog, feeling like he’ll never measure up to his parents’ (Thomas Haden Church and Lauren Graham) expectations. When Kyle is killed in battle, the Marines allow Max to attend the funeral, even though the dog is experiencing trauma after losing his master in an intense firefight. Max shows some kind of connection to Justin, but is hostile toward all others. Max’s military custodians tell the Wincott family that the dog will be put down unless Justin becomes the dog’s new master.
Max goes to live with the Wincotts, but Justin isn’t pleased with the arrangement. Eventually, he warms up to the dog after his best pal’s cousin Carmen (Mia Xitali) teaches him a few tricks. Soon after the funeral, Tyler (Luke Kleintank), one of Wincott’s Marine pals shows up, claiming the dog actually caused the incident that led to Kyle’s death. It turns out that Tyler wimped out during the fateful firefight and is also running a stateside illegal weapons operation with intent to sell guns and explosives to Mexican drug cartels.
When Justin and his dad discover the truth about Tyler, their lives are jeopardy, and Max must use his military training to save them.
Max could have been a heartwarming story about a dog and a family dealing with the tragedy of war, but it ended up being a whole lot of sappy, trite garbage, wrapped around a plot suitable for a Scooby Doo episode, complete with a dog and meddling kids thwarting the plans of an evil mastermind.
There are a few sweet moments with the dog in Max, but they are all lost on a story that makes little sense, and a lot of ham-fisted attempts at patriotism. I’m sure there are plenty of real military hero dog stories out there that would have made for a better film than Max, which seems more suited for a Disney Channel TV movie.