CHICAGO – From Rin-Tin-Tin to Lassie to Benji, American movie goers have loved the heroic dog. As the film “Max” throws its leash into the ring, the expectation was a dull family drama just about Max the dog himself. What a surprise to learn it was also a poignant meditation on people.
And those people had to heal. What begins in a middle class Texas town, where a young man from there is serving in Afghanistan, ends with his family coming to terms with that war, and what is left behind. Max the dog is the catalyst for all this, and does an appropriate heroic turn, but what really becomes important in the story is what he symbolizes for a family, and how his presence will create a new presence in their own lives. This is a perfect example of how to take one part of a story situation – a weapons sniffing dog in a war zone – and make it more about the people that have to deal with the consequences of that war.
Kyle Wincott (Robbie Amell) is a patriotic Texan serving his country as a Marine in Afghanistan. One of his duties is caring for his platoon’s weapons sniffing dog, Max. He has a proud family at home – father Ray (Thomas Haden Church), mother Pamela (Lauren Graham) and younger brother Justin (Josh Wiggins). Their lives are shattered when Kyle is killed in action.
Max is shipped back home, to a base near the Wincotts. When he sits near Kyle’s casket during the funeral, the family decides to adopt him. The only person Max will respond to is the reluctant Justin, so he becomes the dog’s new trainer and companion. A new girl in town, Carmen (Mia Xitiali) helps with the unruly war hound, who is suffering from PTSD. Meanwhile, one of Kyle’s fellow warriors, Tyler (Luke Kleintank), comes back to town as well, and has a plan to profit from his service, but he has to deceive the family – and Max – for the plan to work.