Review by Justin Waldman for Mr. Will Wong
Director and Co-Writer Boaz Yakin (The Rookie, Safe, Now You See Me) takes a very different step in his writing direction as he takes on the heartfelt story of the Belgian Malinois dog, Max, and how he copes with the new world after returning from Afghanistan. This Story does seem slightly far-fetched but it works due to the interweaving stories that all center around Max and focuses on more of the dynamic and relationships that dogs can bring into our lives more than focusing on the dog who is suffering from PTSD.
The Story starts off with Kyle (Robbie Amell) and Max as they’re in Afghanistan and Max is leading them through a warzone, literally. However when Max realizes trouble is ahead and forces the troops to wait, Tyler (Luke Kleintank) convinces Kyle to tell Max to push forward. As Max pushes forward the worst happens as a bomb goes off, and some of the troop unfortunately fought for their Country for the last time. Upon his return home, Max is not as well behaved and comfortable as he once was, well that is until he meets Kyle’s brother Justin (Josh Wiggins). The Wincott Family adopts Max because he is unable to return to the military and imprints on Justin, despite his great hesitation. Though rehabilitating a military dog, especially when you’re scared of him, is no easy task to Justin recruits his friend Chuy (Dejon LaQuake) and his cousin Carmen (Mia Xitlali) help in training Max. However this is not the only obstacle they have to overcome, as the circumstances behind what happened to Kyle in Afghanistan start to look messier than original told to the Wincotts. Can Max, Justin, Chuy and Carmen get the answers Justin’s looking for, or will hope be lost?
What makes Max work are the performances that convey well the great heart this Story possesses. Thomas Haden Church who plays Ray Wincott, brings to his Role the perfect combination of retired Marine who is distressed about what happened to his son in Afghanistan and is reluctant to trust Max, because of first-hand information. As well, Luke Kleintank plays the Villain astoundingly well as by the end of the Film there is a true sense of resentment towards his Character. As well, the performances by Josh Wiggins, Dejon LaQuake and Mia Xitali may appear at first glance unremarkable, but as an afterthought worked exceptionally-well in that we see what affect Max has on their lives on their paths to maturity.
It is hard not to walk away from Max feeling affected and emotional and well, in love with the Dog. It is a Family Movie that needs to be seen and appreciated.
Warner Bros. Pictures Canada release MAX on Friday, June 26, 2015.