Marine Bonds with Combat Dog in Man’s Best Friend Drama
Five years ago, Mike Dowling published “Sergeant Rex,” a memoir about the unbreakable bond he’d forged with a bomb-sniffing dog while conducting over 35 missions on the front lines of Iraq. Now, another Marine, Corporal Megan Leavey, is the subject of a docudrama “based on a true story” chronicling her suspiciously-similar relationship with the very same German shepherd.
Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the film stars Kate Mara as the title character, with veteran thespians Edie Falco and Will Patton in support roles. At the point of departure, we find the rudderless protagonist enlisting in the service more out of a lack of direction than a sense of patriotism.
But after completing basic training on Parris Island, she finally finds her true calling upon being assigned to the K-9 unit. Uncontrollable Rex is on the verge of being declared unfit for active duty by the base’s impatient veterinarian, Dr. Turbeville (Geraldine James), when an intrepid dog whisperer begs for an opportunity to soothe the savage beast with a little TLC.
Drill Sergeant Martin (Common) intervenes on her and the hound’s behalf. Then, exhibiting the patience of Job, Megan is the first soldier with the tender touch necessary to tame Rex. The two soon become inseparable and, the next thing you know, they’re shipped overseas to search for IEDs buried in the dangerous desert sands of Iraq’s Anbar Province.
The deployment initially proves uneventful other than Megan’s crossing paths with potential love interest, Corporal Matt Morales (Ramon Rodriguez). Too bad he likes the Mets while she’s a rabid Yankees fan.
Unfortunately, before love has a chance to blossom, Megan and Rex are injured in a blast and shipped back to the States for rehab at facilities far apart from each other. By then,Megan’s already developed an attachment to the hound that’s almost illegal. She’s convinced Rex belongs to her, not to the U.S. Military. So, she spends the rest of the picture cutting through bureaucratic red tape ’til their tearful reunion. Aww!
Pat and predictable, yet a sentimental enough journey to leave you weepy in spite of yourself.
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence, profanity, mature themes and suggestive material
Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell co-star along with Miles Teller as the Fantastic Four. Michael plays Johnny Storm, Kate plays his adopted sister, Sue, and Jamie plays Ben Grimm, aka The Thing.
Here, the talented trio talk about the reboot of the beloved Marvel Comics film franchise.
Kam Williams: Hi Michael, Thanks for this opportunity to speak with you again. And it’s nice to make your acquaintances, Kate and Jamie.
Michael B. Jordan: Hey, what’s going on, Kam?
Kate Mara: Hi
Jamie Bell: Hi, Kam.
Kam: I just want to let you know that I have more questions for the three of you you than we can get to, but if you answer succinctly, we might get through a lot of them.
Jamie: No problem. We like answering quickly.
Kam: Sangeetha Subramanian says: I’m so excited you all were cast! Did you get any advice from the actors who previously played your roles?
Kate: I had not met Jessica Alba until recently, actually. We were on an airplane together.
Jamie: Weirdly, Michael Chiklis was also on a plane I was on. But I was too scared to talk to him. Michael, did you speak to Chris [Evans]?
Michael: I talked to Chris when I met him at a Vanity Fair party right before we started shooting. We laughed about it and thought it was cool. He said, “Go do a great job.” That was it.
Kate: Do a good job. That’s good advice Chris has.
Kam: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: What’s it like to be called—and to have to be—fantastic?
Jamie: I wish Miles [Teller] were here. Miles would say, “It’s easy.” [All three laugh]
Michael: Seriously, it’s pretty cool.
Jamie: It’s an honor.
Kam: Harriet also asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you’d like to star in?
Jamie: I don’t know.
Michael: Repo Men.
Kate: I’d like to remake Gypsy, and play the stripper. [Everybody laughs]
Kam: Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks: How did you prepare to play your roles?
Michael: I think it was already programmed into me from reading the comic books and being so familiar with Johnny growing up. So, there wasn’t really too much preparation for it, since I already knew his characteristics.
Kate: A lot of the preparation was just in talking to our director about our characters and about what the journey was going to be like for them.
Kam: I really enjoyed how much attention the picture paid to the characters’ formative years.
Kate: That aspect of the film was one of the things that really excited me, when I read the script. Learning about these characters before they become superheroes.
Kam: Bernadette also asks: If you could have a “superhuman” power in real-life, what would you choose?
Michael: The ability to teleport.
Jamie: Oh, yeah, Teleportation!
Kate: I think I’d like to be able to fly. That would be a cool superpower.
Kam: Professor/Filmmaker/Author Hisani Dubose asks: Michael: Which was tougher: Climbing the Hollywood showbiz ladder or growing up in Newark?
Kate: [Exclaims] Ooooooh! [Then chuckles]
Michael: That’s pretty good. That’s a good question. I’ll say, growing up in Newark wasn’t easy by any means, but having a solid family foundation and the community really pushed me forward. So, I had an easier route than most. I’ve certainly been blessed. The Hollywood industry is pretty rough for anybody, regardless of background, as Jamie, Kate or anybody else enjoying longevity and true success can attest to.
Kam: Danielle Hamilton asks Michael: What’s your favorite place to hang out in Brooklyn?
Michael: [Long pause]
Kate: Don’t tell her, Michael.
Michael: I was prepared to answer that question, Kam, but I’ve been advised not to. [Everybody laughs]
Kam: Don’t worry, she’s not a stalker. She’s an attorney.
Michael: I don’t really spend that much time in Brooklyn. I’m from Jersey. I could help if she wanted to go hang out in Newark.
Kam: I think Danielle thought you lived in Brooklyn.
Jamie: She’s not a very good stalker, if she thinks he’s from Brooklyn.
Michael: Yeah, she’s not a stalker at all. [Everybody laughs]
Kam: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
Michael: That’s a great question.
Jamie: That IS a great question. I wish I had more time to think about it.
Kate: Miles would have a great answer for it.
Jamie and Michael: Yeah, he would.
Kam: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?