“Megan Leavey” is a movie about war and the aftermath of battle, but it’s told from a perspective that hasn’t been seen before.
Based on the true story of a young Marine corporal who developed a bond with her military combat dog, this is a stirring portrait of both war heroes.
Kate Mara plays the title character, a young woman unsure of her future who decides to join the Marines. She eventually finds herself assigned to clean up the K9 unit after a disciplinary hearing. While there she meets an aggressive dog named Rex that she immediately bonds with. After some campaigning she is given the chance to train him.
The duo is assigned to duty in Iraq, where they complete more than 100 missions until an IED blast injures them. Following the attack, Megan sets out to adopt Rex to allow him to lead a more simple life and escape the stress of combat.
“Megan Leavey” was directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, who also directed the documentary “Blackfish.” Her work with that documentary actually comes into play here with both films giving a human touch to some extraordinary animals.
Part of the strength of the film comes from the bond between Megan and the dog, something Mara and the animal that plays Rex do a good job conveying.
The scenes while on deployment are intense, with the finale very emotional – even if you know the story’s final outcome in advance.
The cast also includes Tom Felton, Felicity Huffman and Common, but this is essentially a film about two soldiers whose bond went well beyond the battlefield.
When they are onscreen together it makes for an impressively original portrait of combat.
Also in theaters
Also in theaters is “It Comes at Night” (B), a film that is impossible to peg into one genre. That is what makes it so effective.
Writer/director Trey Edward Shults has crafted a suspenseful piece of horror that is best viewed with as little advance knowledge as possible about the film. The less you know, the more the tension mounts as the film goes into some unexpected directions.
Without saying too much, the plot is basically about a man named Paul (Joel Edgerton) who lives in the woods trying to protect his family – a wife named Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) and a son named Travis (Kevin Harrison Jr.) – from some unknown threat.
The family seems to have built a contained, sheltered existence, but their lives are tested when they take in a family (including Christopher Abbott and Riley Keough) desperate for shelter.
What horror are these families trying to escape? How does the dynamic shift with two families living in the same roof?
These questions and others are revealed as the film slowly unfolds in a white-knuckle fashion that will leave audiences on the edge of their seats.
The cast helps make it all work, especially Edgerton, who continues to play key roles in interesting horror films.
Shults’ script and direction is wise to not reveal too much too soon, creating a mood that works quite well.
While watching “It Comes at Night,” I was reminded of a similar release from A24 studios last year, “The Witch.” That film seemed to cause a distinct divide between audiences and I suspect “It Comes at Night” will do the same. If you are willing to go with it and allow the story to draw you in, “Night” should satisfy fans of the horror/suspense genre.
“It Comes at Night” is rated R for violence, disturbing images and language and is now playing at the Regal Bowling Green Stadium 12, Regal Greenwood Mall Stadium 10, and Highland Cinemas in Glasgow.