Kate Mara and Rex
Dog movies typically leave me cold; the emotional manipulation is typically too deliberate (see the chillingly calculated A Dog’s Purpose). With Megan Leavey, Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite overcomes the multiple artificiality of a dog movie, a patriotic war movie and a true story. Kate Mara’s affecting portrayal of this real American hero who overcame her difficulty connecting with people by developing a deep relationship with her bomb-detection K-9, Rex, is a career highlight for the actress.
She’s not alone. Common gives his most effective performance, and Tom Felton escapes the long shadow of Draco Malfoy as another believably heroic Marine. No one will mistake this film for Saving Private Ryan, but it’s nice to see a different side of combat. This film’s tear-jerking feels earned.