Megan Leavey Loved Her Dog Rex.
By Skip Sheffield
Megan Leavey was not just an ordinary dog-lover. She was an upstate New Yorker who found her purpose as a U.S. Marine Corporal. Rex was not just any dog. He was a very aggressive and fearsome German Shepherd who became a bomb-sniffing dog for Marines in Iraq.
“Megan Leavey” is a rah-rah story for dog-lovers and those who support the Iraq War.
Kate Mara plays Megan, based on a real-life character. The year is 2001. Megan is floundering aimlessly. Her divorced mother (Edie Falco) is thinking of marrying a new guy (Will Patton). Megan is the odd person out. On a whim at a local shopping mall she goes to a local USMC recruiter and says sign me up.
Like Goldie Hawn in “Private Benjamin” Megan is an unlikely soldier, but this is not a comedy. A sympathetic Sgt. Gunny Martin (Common) tries to get her into combat shape, but she soon screws up and is punished by being assigned to dog kennel cleanup duty. It is there she meets her destiny: a surly, violent German Shepherd named Rex. Rex is gifted with an extraordinary sense of smell, so he is trained to be a bomb-sniffing dog in the deserts of Iraq.
On one hand Megan and her dog are heroic and self-sacrificing. On the other hand it is hard to romanticize a war so misbegotten, so destructive to both sides with no clear gain either way. “Megan Leavey” and her dog are true heroes, but what happens when they have to go back to civilian life? This movie is directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, who made the compassionate documentary “Black Fish.” Its heart is in the right place but I can’t help but feel melancholy about such a pointless, unwinnable war.