‘Megan Leavey’ Review Roundup: Emotional War Film Captures Critics Hearts
Megan Leavey is based on the true life story of a marine corporal (played by Kate Mara) who, with her combat dog, saved many lives during her deployments in Iraq. After a disciplinary hearing, Leavey is tasked to clean up with K9 unit, and is given the chance to train aggressive dog Rex. The pair completed more than 100 missions before an IED explosion injures them.
Ramon Rodríguez, Tom Felton, Bradley Whitford, Common, and Edie Falco co-star in this emotional action drama. Critics are loving the film, which received 92% on Rottentomatoes. The film is a war movie focused on a woman and directed by a woman (Gabriela Cowperwaite), which makes for a very welcome and rare Hollywood film.
MEGAN LEAVEY REVIEW ROUNDUP
“Cowperthwaite has a background in documentary, and the scenes between Leavey and Rex, with their understated camera work and one-on-one intensity, showcase the director’s skill at observation. The drama at home, on the other hand, though based on true events, feels forced. Still, Megan Leavey is a rarity in Hollywood: a true story of a woman in combat, directed by a woman. This representation, combined with the undeniably lovable canine at its center, elevates it above the typical war film.”
–Abbey Bender, The Village Voice
“Megan Leavey is a portrait of military life as a working-class career. (Leavey herself, long retired from the service, cameos as a drill instructor.) …The screenplay, credited to Pamela Gray, Annie Mumolo and Tim Lovestedt, finds nuance in every exchange, whether the moment is comic, heartbreaking or a lived-in fusion of the two. That’s especially true on the home front, where the incisive writing and performances make whole lifetimes fully felt in even the briefest of scenes.”
–Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter
“While Mara lacks the sort of rough-and-tumble grit one might expect to find in a Marine like Megan, her performance is rich and nuanced even in those (frequent) moments when platitudes and stilted dialogue threaten to undermine authenticity. As it details the aftermath of a battlefield trauma that leaves both its protagonists scarred and alone, Cowperthwaite’s film segues into a more predictable uplifting mode. Yet even at its most schematic and schmaltzy, it’s a cut above likeminded efforts such as Max and Army Dog, and represents a reasonably moving tribute to an unlikely, and unbreakable, friendship.”
–Nick Schager, Variety
“And for all its cinema verite realism, there are moments when Mara, like her sister Rooney, a child of great wealth and privilege, needed another take or two to convince us that she’s working class. Little lady’s never picked up on Old Milwaukee can in her life. Similarly, Bradley Whitford is sympathetic, but lacks the works-with-his-hands earthiness of a working class dad so proud of his daughter’s service. But Mara delivers the movie’s emotional punches like a prize-fighter, utterly selling us on the notion that this cold, remote and guarded member of the working class walking wounded has found her true love in the one guy who needs her, sticks with her and saves her life. Those scenes make Megan Leavey a story worth telling and a movie worth relishing, a weeper that earns its tears.”
–Roger Moore, Movie Nation