Megan Leavey is based on a true story about the war hero and her dog, Rex. If your eyes aren’t watering by the final frame, you’re watching the wrong film or you simply don’t have a heart. Take it from me, you’ll want to bring some Kleenex.
Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite from a screenplay written by Pamela Gray and Annie Mumolo & Tim Lovestedt, Meagan Leavey stars Kate Mara, Ramón Rodríguez, Tom Felton, Bradley Whitford, Will Patton, Sam Keeley, with Common and Edie Falco.
No matter what you think of war, the canine handlers share an incredible bond with their dogs. That’s what happened with Megan and Rex. They had a unique bond. Megan was injured as a result of an IED in Iraq and opted against re-enlisting. She had hoped the same would have been true for Rex but higher-ups had other things in mind and sent Rex back in for another tour.
Searching for a purpose in her life, Megan decides to enlist in the United States Marines in 2003. It’s while attending military police school at Camp Pendleton in San Diego where Megan becomes fascinated with the “working dogs.” She soon joins the K9 unit and is assigned a German shepherd named Rex. Rex isn’t the nicest dog around but the two of them eventually bond before being deployed to Iraq, where Megan meets another dog handler, Matt Morales (Ramón Rodríguez). Megan serves two tours overseas, where she’s one of the first women to be operating in the likes of Fallujah and Ramadi. The two of them serve on 100 missions together.
In 2006, when Megan is serving in her second tour, Megan gets injured and has to be taken for treatment for ruptured eardrums and short-term memory loss. Saddened to leave Rex, Megan decides to do everything she can in order to get him back. Despite being awarded with a a Purple Heart, Megan’s not going to give up on Rex, who the vet has said was “unadoptable.” Her father (Bradley Whitford) inspires her to take the battle higher and soon, she finds herself meeting Senator Chuck Schumer. Leavey finally gets him back in the spring of 2012, eight months before he died.
Cowperthwaite comes from the world of documentaries. Even though this is her first narrative film, she’s still telling someone’s story. Leavey spent four years trying to get Rex back and even if it’s in a feature film, it’s a story that needs to be told and it comes the very weekend after Patty Jenkins became the highest-grossing female director for an opening weekend with a female superhero.
“I bawled my eyes out,” Kate Mara says of the first time she read the screenplay. “The thing I love so much about Megan’s journey is that she starts off kind of lost, but when she becomes a Marine and meets this incredible animal she finds her purpose.”
If your eyes aren’t watering when they are honored during Veterans Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium, you must not have a heart. I know what it’s like to bond with a dog (ours was put down in October 2016) and I was crying during this scene.
Megan Leavey, distributed by Bleecker Street, is now playing in theaters today.
For more on the real story, please click here.