Max full movie review - DHKR: Max- "A Good Story, Trapped in The Wrong Movie"
Max is a film that feels like a first draft movie that Stephen Spielberg wrote in the 80s, before keeping it hidden at a garage sale for other production companies to pick up and claim as their own. However, this one must've been bought late, and therefore updated for us modern folk.
Sorry to those people wished for the movie to be about a shell-shocked, veteran dog who bonds with his Marine holder and has to face harsh times readjusting to the new world, being constantly haunted by the experience and carnage that scarred such an animal. A sort of respectful, but realistic look at the war going on in Afghanistan, taken only from the eyes of something that many would find insignificant but in reality a very vital part of the military. What we see through the dog's eyes, i.e. the very reactions that lead to an eventual shell shock, could connect civilians to the harsh realities that service members face. Such a premise feels like it could be a great movie, and a timeless one at that.
Instead, Max feels like a throw-away, rejected Spielberg story, meant for Dog-lovers and children between the ages of 13 and 16. A Slice of Life story that only focuses on underdeveloped stereotypes and a generic story you'd think Melissa McCarthy was originally going to parody for her movie Spy before realizing how stupid and disrespectful that idea would have been. Bummer.
While we see Max and his work with his master Kyle, that's only in the first six minutes. Yes, the film that claims to be about a Marine dog and his bond with his handler, such a bond mind you that it causes the poor thing to go shell-shocked, AND is in the bulk of the commercials, the only time it shows it like that is about six to seven minutes. In that time, we see Max search a small Afghan village for a cache of weapons, we see the dog sleep with Kyle, then Kyle dies in a firefight with ISIS.
Fast-forward to a couple days later, we see the dog suffering PTSD after the death of his handler, making him irritable and almost violent, simulating a realistic reaction an animal so attached may feel when in the Military. However, this is nearly solved as soon as it begins by the dog having this new bond with our human lead, Justin. Justin is a sort of Teenaged "Video Game Pirate" who takes non published games, downloads them and sells them for a hefty price. However, I found his character generic even by family movie standards. He makes Lucas from the movie Lucas look like Ellie from the game The Last of Us.
The movie starts off on the right foot by having the Protagonist bond with the dog slowly, and I admit that it tries to show us these moments to remember who and what this film can connect to. However, it tries to fit these moments in a movie that seems to be more interested in being both a Slice of Life and a kind of thriller with a generic bad guy.
And when I found out that there was a bad guy, all sympathies for this film went straight to hell. And here's the kicker; He's also a Marine Sergeant that, you guessed it, had worked with Kyle.
What makes this idiotic and disrespectful is that this "Movie appreciating the military for all it's done for us as a country" is ironing in the fact that "Military Bad Now, They Be War-Pigs Oink Oink." at the same time. I'm sure there are bad, even evil people abusing the power of the Dress Blue to some kind of extent. HOWEVER, that doesn't give the movie a right to have a generic bad guy when you don't need one. It's a movie about a kid and a dog, why have a bad guy and just be wishy washy with him? Seriously, they attempt to humanize him in the first half, but then he just goes full on rogue and psycho with zero redeeming values what so ever.
Max could've been a great movie, if it had just stuck to keeping us with the dog and not try to forcibly cram in these Family-Togetherness clichés with it, along with just scrapping the bad guy plot altogether. If they had extended the time with Max and Kyle in their war-trail in Afghanistan, where the bond between them and the squadron could be shown and even tested at times, and THEN try putting the dog in a scenario where he had to readjust to life back in the states, then I honestly assure you that it could have been something remarkable. Instead, it focuses it's time on a scumbag teenager and his two Latino stereotype friends and their adventure against the EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEvil Marine Sergeant Reyes and his buddies from the Mexican Cartel.
I can not, with my power, really recommend this movie for the general crowd. If you're a dog owner, and maybe a service member who's used to being painted as the bad guy by those who worship peace, then I'd say you could watch it. Just think about how much better it could've been if it weren't too generic and cliché. It's a good story, trapped in the wrong movie.
2 Stars, D-Ranking