Megan Leavey

megan leaveyWar is hell, but returning from war is really rough too.  As we’ve realized the devastating effects of PTSD and how severely it has affected an entire generation of American soldiers, war movies have more frequently shown us the human effects of conflict.  In my view, that is a welcome and long overdue change.  I was somewhat apprehensive going into Megan Leavey, because I feared that it would try to glorify or justify the invasion of Iraq.  That’s a non-starter for me because there was no legal basis for the invasion or occupation, and no glory to be had over there.  You will never convince me that it was a good idea for the U.S.A. (and not just them) to send hundreds of thousands of troops to a no-win situation in the Middle East.  Many of those troops didn’t come back and those that did were never the same.

Megan Leavey (the movie) is the story of one of those troops.  Megan Leavey (the person) is a former marine who was deployed to Iraq in 2005 and 2006.  Leavey’s experience in Iraq must have been the most stressful tour of duty imaginable, because Leavey toured Iraq with a partner: a bomb-sniffing dog named Rex.  Leavey and Rex went “in front of the front lines” to sweep for bombs and weapons intended to kill the troops supporting the new Iraqi government.

real megan leavey

The real Megan Leavey and Rex.

The Iraq we see in Megan Leavey feels authentic.  Much of Iraq was (and still is) a war zone, an awful place for a soldier to be, and a worse place for civilians to be.  Whatever their reason for joining the armed forces (and for Leavey her reason is to escape upstate New York), the American soldiers deployed there were largely good people with good intentions.  We can judge their leaders for numerous bad decisions and questionable motivations, but the fact remains that the soldiers on the ground were doing their best while in harm’s way and on edge because the threats they faced were not obvious.  It was not just buried bombs, though that was the prime threat to Leavey and Rex.  Most of Iraq’s residents did not (and do not) support terrorism, insurgency, or Saddam Hussein.  But a few of them did, and they weren’t wearing name tags, so for an American soldier, every single person not wearing the same uniform as you might be planning to kill you.

Whatever your political views on the war, it should be obvious how bad a situation it was to be an American soldier in Iraq, and in fact politics often get in the way by dehumanizing the situation.  With the knowledge we have today, you can (and should) be against the invasion and occupation of Iraq while also sympathizing with the troops who suffered through that insanity.   Megan Leavey chooses to remain neutral on the political side and focus not just on the war but also on the aftermath, in service of Leavey’s (and Rex’s) story.  The result is a compelling tale that is broader than Iraq, and Kate Mara’s performance really conveys the anguish that returning soldiers suffer through, whether they’re humans or dogs.  It’s a very focused movie and more of a tribute to the bond that forms between us and our dogs than a true war movie.  I really enjoyed it.

 

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17 thoughts on “Megan Leavey

  1. Pingback: Megan Leavey – MyAwesomesite

    1. Sean Post author

      WWWWWWWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL…………………………………………………..

      I thought about whether a dead dog alert should be issued for this one and decided against it. But I did have to think about it.

      Liked by 2 people

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      1. Sean Post author

        SPOILERS

        It may make a difference for you to know that the dog’s death doesn’t happen onscreen and it’s really the fact that he is near the end of his natural life that is important rather than his actual death.

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  2. Jay

    I think we learn a lot more about war when we experience from one person’s eyes. We do ask people do go there personally, and only in stepping into their shoes can we really feel what global and political stakes really mean.

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Sean Post author

      I hope the personal approach normalizes PTSD somewhat too. I expect you have to deal with that a lot, with people thinking there’s something wrong with them for being affected by traumatic events, but I think the opposite is really true.

      Liked by 1 person

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  3. Christy B

    I didn’t realize that her partner was a bomb-sniffing dog. Wow. That certainly would have made for interesting times. I feel for any soldier who went/is in/will go to Iraq. LIke you, I’m glad PTSD is becoming a more approachable topic in movies. It needs to continue though as some people still just discount it.

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  4. Liz A.

    Oh, do not get me started on the Iraq war. It should never have happened.

    Sounds like an interesting movie, though. I might have to check it out.

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  5. Jeff the Chef

    I saw the trailer for this movie, and I have to admit that I thought it would be better as a Facebook post than a movie. Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs and I love the story. It just didn’t seem like a “movie.” However, I’m really glad to hear that you liked it! Perhaps I’ll see it … especially if it turns out that the dog was actually played by Meryl Streep.

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  6. amoviemind

    I’m really relieved to hear a good review of this movie (this is the first review I’ve read). It looks like my kind of movie and I really wanted it to deliver in more than an emotional-dog-relationship movie kind of way.. because that’s my jam no matter what. Great post!

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    1. Jay

      I noticed your blog is marked private. If you’re trying to keep it that way, cool. But if you would extend an invitation, I woulnd’t mind reading you back!

      Like

      Reply
      1. amoviemind

        So sorry I missed your reply. My privacy settings are set to public, so I’m not sure why that’s showing up. I’m somewhat new to the site so I’ll look into it! Thanks for letting me know. You are definitely welcome to read 🙂

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  7. Jean Reinhardt

    I didn’t know about this movie, so thanks for the great review, I’ve put it on my list now. I agree with you about the invasion of Iraq, so futile and such a waste of so many good lives.

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  8. mydangblog

    I really want to see it, but I’m afraid I’ll cry too much. I still haven’t seen A Dog’s Purpose yet either, and I bawled when Sam the Shepherd was killed in I am Legend. I’m a real sucker for dogs.

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  9. Ayush Chandra

    I agree Sean, invasion of Iraq wasn’t something to cheer. It would have been a really tough time for U.S militarians in that period, especially emotionally. What I like about “Megan Leavey” is that it makes audience feel to be in the war situation from emotional point of view; unlike other war films that display heavy bombing and rage. It is a fine film to watch.

    Moreover, a few weeks ago I curated a list of 2017 war films that includes a few similar drama-war films is the list such as “Their Finest”. I would love to know your view about it. Here it is: http://www.filmyearth.com/war-movies-2017/

    Liked by 1 person

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