Everyone loves a movie about a dog. If you sit and think about movies from your lifetime, I bet you can think of a dog movie that you hold dear. It could be “Old Yeller”, “Marley and Me”, “Turner & Hooch”, or maybe even “Beverly Hills Chihuahua”, never mind, no one remembers that movie fondly. The reason why we love dog movies is because most of us love dogs, so done the right way they know how to pull on our heartstrings. While we have so many different dog stories to tell, including one about talking Chihuahuas, it is amazing that we have never told the story of a dog that served in the military, that is until now.
Max is a German Shepherd who helps find explosives and other things that go boom. His handler Kyle (Robbie Amell) and Max are pretty much like peas and carrots and are always together. When Kyle is killed in action, Max is going to be retired, but shows signs of the same bond he had with Kyle, with his younger brother Justin (Josh Wiggins). While Kyle seems to love life, Justin is a bit moodier, and feels like a disappointment to his parents, because he is not Kyle. Justin’s dad Ray (Thomas Haden Church) and mother (Lauren Graham) give the responsibility of caring for Max to Justin, who takes it on reluctantly. Soon Max and Justin are bonding, and while one day out and about see something they shouldn’t, a something that could hurt Justin and his family. Together with Max, Justin sets out to stop what they saw, before it is to late.
Now this is the part where I tell you how I really feel about “Max”. The film is written and directed by Boaz Yakin (Remember the Titans), so with that said you kind of know what kind of movie you are getting into. What “Max” is, is just a generic movie, that would fit right into an ABC Family Channel time slot, or straight to DVD, you wouldn’t be surprised. That is not a knock against the story, a story you feel Yakin wanted to tell to honor these animals that have served our country. However ‘generic’ is really the only word that comes to mind. Everything feels like it is being painted by numbers, even the acting is subdued, with the only emotion you get is from watching Max in action. This movie is really neither good nor bad, it is just there, and one day will become one of those movies that teachers put on, when the students aren’t getting ready for those standardize test they take now. So if you are looking for something with some substance, this is not the movie for you, but if you want a “safe” movie for the whole family this could be the perfect choice. (And really, how many times can you see Jurassic World?) I appreciate Yakin telling this story, but grading it as a movie, its just nothing special, and really in the end you get what get with this one.