Director: Boaz Yakin
Cast: Josh Wiggins, Thomas Haden Church, Luke Kleintank
Any movie about a pet dog (or a cat) unabashedly panders to those who have the respective pet at home. They're designed to whip out the tears from pet owners' eyes by including some comedy in the beginning and a tragedy in the end. If you've seen films like 'K9', 'Turner and Hooch' and 'Marley and Me' you'll know those movies are all pretty much the same thematically and narratively, even if they have different stories. The thing is, most of these pet-based movies make money because they're so populist in nature, so we get more and more of these movies.
A still from 'Max'. Pic/YouTube
This time we have 'Max', written and directed by Boaz Yakin, who has previously been responsible for stuff like the sequels to 'From Dusk till Dawn' and Dirty Dancing', and also the terrible 'Prince of Persia' movie. The only good thing he's made so far is Denzel Washington's football drama 'Remember the Titans', which had its share of contrivances but was still an enjoyable film. In 'Max', his style of blatant pandering and emotional manipulation is visible.
The central character in 'Max' is a military dog who has been on missions in Afghanistan. Tragedy strikes when Max's handler dies in battle and the dog begins suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after he returns home. Yes, this is a movie that ascertains that dogs can miss their dead owners so much they can get depressed and catch post-war PTSD. This has probably never been done before in cinema, so that's a compliment for the film. Anyway, Max forges a bond with his handler's teenage brother (Josh Wiggins) who tries to heal the dog's emotional wounds. Meanwhile there's a strange subplot of a colleague of Max's former handler smuggling guns from Afghanistan and selling them to a Mexican drug cartel in Texas, which makes no sense when you don't realise it's only added to create some sort of tension.
As far as hitting you right in the feels goes, 'Max' does an admirable job. Anyone who actually has a dog at home will probably love this movie. Kids, especially, might dig it, but for an adult who is not very fond of pets, there's nothing in the film to see apart from contrived plot points, some melodrama and less-than-great acting. You can decide on watching this film depending on which camp you belong to.
Watch the trailer of 'Max'