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Megan Leavey: A Moving Portrayal of a Soldier and Her Dog

Lance Maldonado, Guest Writer

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Megan Leavey is a biographical drama film following Megan Leavey, a US Marine, and her combat dog, Rex, through the hell of war. Director, Gabriela Cowperthwaite, strived to create a film that felt inspiring, showing the emotional impact of war on a person, but also creating a powerful message surrounding the friendship between a dog and soldier who fought side by side.

The film starts with Megan Leavey trying to deal with her abusive parents and trying to make a living in a small town.Leavey struggled socially, which affected her keeping a job and her relationship with her family. Feeling like she had nothing to stay for, Leavy decided to join the military to get away from her old life to try and start a new one.

Early on in her career in the military, Leavy gets in trouble with her officer and is forced to clean up after the combat dogs. Here she meets Rex, and slowly the two start to build a bond together that will last a lifetime. After training, the two are sent out on a tour to find IEDs in Iraq, where their journey into combat begins.

Although Megan Leavey is advertised as a typical war film, albeit one where the narrative revolves around a dog and a marine, the majority of the film takes place outside of all the combat that one might expect. The film is a buddy story and stays that way for the most part. About twenty percent of the entire film actually deals with the combat that the pair goes through together.

The film focuses more on the emotional aspects between the two and how the experience of war together affects them. The film is shown from Leavey’s point of view and what she saw and felt during the hand full of years of her life that the film covers. What increases the emotional stakes of the film is that it is based on the actual experience of real life marine, Megan Leavey. The film sticks to what happened to Megan Leavey quite closely; and includes a love story between Megan and another marine.

The film did not have a very high budget and it was easy to tell during shootouts and when explosions begin to go off. Some of the explosions looked cheap and the shootouts between the military and terrorists felt weak and repetitive.

The best parts of the film were when the movie was not focusing on action, but rather the emotions that Megan went through before, during, and after her service. The camera work wasn’t anything special, dealing with mainly tracking shots and using shaky shots during action sequences to make it feel more intense. The film never feels overly dark and stays pretty light throughout, even during Megan’s tour into Iraq.

Megan Leavey is a great movie; it ticks all the boxes for making a great buddy film, but it misses on delivering satisfying action sequences during Leavey’s service out in the field. The bond between Rex and Megan are fantastic creates a strong emotional response in the viewer. The film slows down in pacing by the end, but it ends with a bittersweet emotional ending that brings a satisfying close between these two friends. This movie is not meant for people looking for huge explosions and tense action, but rather for animal lovers or anyone who enjoys movies about friendship and finding meaning in life.   

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Megan Leavey: A Moving Portrayal of a Soldier and Her Dog