by: NICOLE TRUGILLO/Editor-in-Chief
Best friend. Hero. Marine. Inspired by true events, “Max” tells the story of a Belgian Malinois (shepherd dog) that used to help United States Marines in Afghanistan alongside his handler Kyle Wincott ( Robbie Amell).
Kyle is questioned for missing weapons and finds out his friend Tyler Hame (Luke Kleintank) is responsible. Kyle tells Tyler he can’t cover for him if he gets caught, which causes problems later on.
Later, the two, and the rest of their squad, go into the battlefield, with Max scouting ahead of them. Max senses trouble, but Tyler doesn’t listen, much to Kyle’s dismay. Max continues to proceed and sees a suicide bomber, before being injured by an explosion. Kyle tries to save Max during the gunfight, but he gets shot and killed during the process.
Justin (Josh Wiggins), who is Kyle’s younger brother, their father, Ray (Thomas Haden Church), and mother, Pamela (Lauren Graham), get the devastating news about their son.
They attend Kyle’s funeral, and Kyle’s fellow Marine comrades pay their respects and bring Max. The war dog turns vicious around others because he knows that his handler is dead, but becomes silent as he places his paw over Kyle’s flag-covered casket, knowing his best friend is dead. The Marines and Kyle’s family notice that Max is calmer and has a bond with Justin, sensing that he is the brother of Kyle. The family later adopts Max, because the dog no longer can carry out his duty to the military and suffers from PTSD.
Justin wants nothing to do with Max at first. He has troubles of his own, such as living up to his father’s military expectations. Eventually Justin warms up to Max with the encouragement of his friend Chuy (Dejon LaQuake) and Chuy’s cousin Carmen (Mia Xitlali). Justin bonds with Max, teaching him how to act in the civilian world, such as walking, running, and handling him around people.
Trouble starts to brew as Tyler visits the Wincotts. Max senses Tyler isn’t what he portrays and starts to be aggressive with him. The feeling is mutual with Tyler, so he tells the family Max is the one who turned on Kyle, which caused him to discharge his weapon on himself. Justin, being the smart teenage kid, starts to investigate the matter.
The plot thickens as Justin and his friends discover that Tyler is trying to sell military weapons to the cartel, as one of the members is Chuy’s other cousin, Emilio (Joseph Julian Soria). It’s up to Justin, along with Chuy and Carmen, and their trusty veteran dog Max, to stop the situation and clear Max’s name.
“Max” was released on June 26 with mixed reviews from critics. This movie touched my heart, as I caught myself crying from the scenes when Max puts his paw on Kyle’s casket, and when Kyle tries to save Max from the explosion. Tear-jerking moments, especially involving a dog, is my specialty. I love dog movies, but when it involves military personnel (which hits close to home for me), I can’t resist crying.
Boaz Yakin, director and writer of the movie, knew what elements to feature. He is best known for having directed the successful and famous film, “Remember the Titans.” Yakin knows from experience how to entice the audience with emotional scenes and inject suspense into the movie.
“Max” will warm your heart at any age. Whether you’re a kid or an adult, you will enjoy the heartfelt scenes or the adventure plot to go along with it. If you’re a dog lover like myself, I suggest you have a couple of tissues handy, because you will definitely need them.
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