Sam Bauman: ‘Megan Leavey’ an excellent movie of dog and handler

Now playing:

“Transformers: The Last Knight” (sci-fi)

“Cars 3” (Sports/Action)

“Wonder Woman” (Fantasy, sci-fi)

“Rough Night” (comedy)

“The Mummy” (fantasy, thriller)

“All Eyez on Me” (drama)

“Megan Leavey” (true life story)

A change in subject matter for this space.

Well, that’s the lineup of local films, less reruns at the Stadium Cinema on Carson Street. Blockbuster is “The Mummy,” an improbable story of a bomb blowing open a cavern containing the nasty female mummy of an ancient civilization. It’s a lamely sexist quasi-titillation, as mummy Ahmanet slithers around various sites skimpily clad in bandages, and sucks the life out of her victims. Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe pitch in, but it’s no good without much fun or suspense.

“Wonder Woman” we’ve already found acceptable. Dull when the woman is telling her backstory.”Transformers” is more of the same old, well done.

But clearly, the movie of choice this week is the true-life story of Megan Leavey (Kate Mara), who enlists in the Marines on a whim and becomes a handler of a combat dog, Rex, a hefty German shepherd.

Leavey is small, attractive, but not beautiful. She and Rex quickly bond, employing her special way of training. They are shipped to Iraq and take part in several actions, where Rex distinguishes the pair. They are awarded combat medals. The combat scenes are low-key but impressive. Rex is a truly fine example of his breed. And Mara is a small but impressive Marine.

This is a true story, so the plot is simply what happened to Leavey and Rex. Eventually, they are released from active duty and Rex develops a fatal illness.

A simple story, very well told. Mara is small but really big in many ways, and Rex is just what a fine dog should be. Don’t miss this one, it is simple, well told and well deserved. Leavey went on to become a medic to dogs nationwide in a notable career after Rex became ill with palsy. (Our last dog was a Samoyed. She probably partly triggered my admiration for this film.)

Starring Kate Mara is Corp. Megan Leavey; Common as Gunnery Sergeant Massey; Ramón Rodríguez as Corporal Matt Morales; Tom Felton as Andrew Dean, a veteran dog handler; Damson Idris as Michael Forman; Shannon Tarbet as Barb; Bradley Whitford as Bob; Alex Hafner as ECP Sgt. Sanders; Will Patton as Jim.

Don’t let this one get away. You’ll be rewarded with tightly controlled acting, a tautly told story and a very competent cast, headed by Mara.

Sam Bauman writes about senior affairs, among other things, for the Nevada Appeal.


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