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Max | 2015 | PG | - 1.4.2

A Belgian Malinois military dog (Carlos) on the Afghanistan front assists his handler, a US Marine (Robbie Amell), until the soldier dies in combat. The traumatized dog is retired and sent to the Marine's family to adjust or be put down and the Marine's younger brother (Josh Wiggins) bonds with the dog. Also with Thomas Haden Church, Luke Kleintank, Lauren Graham, Mia Xitali and jay Hernandez. Directed by Boaz Yakin. Several lines of dialogue are in Spanish, without translation or subtitles. [1:51]

SEX/NUDITY 1 - A teen girl kisses a teen boy passionately for several seconds. A husband and his wife kiss briefly and hold hands in another scene. A teen girl jumps onto a teen boy's back and says that he will be her boyfriend.
 A teen boy teases his female teen cousin about liking a "white boy," saying that she makes goo-goo eyes at him and singing, "Oooo Justin!" (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details); she in turn asks another teen boy if he uses a dog to pick up girls (he laughs) and she remarks that her cousin stalks girls on social networks. A woman jokes that she has stretch marks, to prove that she delivered her son.
 A teen girl wears short shorts that reveal bare legs to the thighs. A teen boy changes shirts five times and we see his bare chest, arms and back; he walks to his window shirtless and a male friend outside wolf-whistles at him as a joke. A few girls wear tight jeans and scoop neck sleeveless tops that reveal minimal cleavage.


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VIOLENCE/GORE 4 - A dog leads Marines holding rifles through a rocky pass when a man behind a boulder detonates explosives using a cell phone; large clouds of smoke and dust fill the screen after a loud explosion and we hear men shouting as the smoke clears to show a dead Marine sprawled face down (no blood is seen).
 Two men drive a truck on flat tires and with a smoking radiator through the woods to a train trestle where another man steps in front of it and shoots the driver and we see bullet holes in the windshield as the truck goes over the bridge and crashes loudly; bullets and grenades in the back of the truck ignite when the gas tank catches fire and bullets shoot all around a teen boy and into the woods. A man with a gun runs toward a teen boy and begins to shoot, and then pistol-whips the boy as we see only the boy's back (no injuries are shown); the boy falls down and a dog tackles the attacker, taking him through a hole in the bridge and onto the leafy ground below.
 A dog and three teens (two boys and a girl) on bikes cross a river in front of a waterfall and two of the teens fall under water for a few seconds (they all survive, but loses one bicycle); the teens see two men holding another man hostage at the foot of a cliff, the girl rides for help and a Rottweiler runs after the two boys but another dog leads it away, tackles it, fights and sinks its teeth into the neck of the Rottweiler (no blood), and sends it careening down a muddy hill to a river; the dogs fight beside the water and the first dog sends the Rottweiler into the current, where it washes away downstream as a man appears with a handgun and aims at the dog and a teen boy nearby.
 A man handcuffed in a truck grabs his captor, slams his gun hand in the door and escapes after knocking the man unconscious and shooting out the truck tires and radiator. A teen boy hits a man with a handgun with a bicycle, sending the man rolling down a hill in the forest; the man screams on screen and shouts off-screen that his leg is broken.
 Two men store stolen armaments in a storage shed at one man's work site and his boss finds them; the two crooks take the boss hostage, handcuffing his wrists and stuffing him into their pickup truck; one man tells the other to take the hostage to Mexico and make sure he never comes back. Marines with rifles investigate an Afghan village as the village residents shout and a dog sniffs out a cache of rifles and explosives beneath a carpeted floor.
 A Marine berates another Marine for stealing weapons and selling them. An officer asks several Marines where some missing armaments from a seized cache are and no one knows. A Marine spreads rumors that a dog turned on his now-dead handler and also injured a dozen Navy Seals, putting them in the hospital. Two Marines in dress uniform visit a house and a woman cries; we hear that her son died in Afghanistan and we hear that her husband is a Marine veteran and that he has an artificial leg from an injury. A man says that friendly fire killed another man in his unit in Iraq and then destroyed the muscle in his leg and shattered the bone. A teen boy says that his teen cousin suffered an attack with a machete while she slept; she does not confirm this, but raises her hair to show a tattoo of a bear paw under her ear. A teen boy and a dog wearing bandages around its midsection and foreleg visit a cemetery, where the boy talks to his brother's headstone and salutes.
 Two Rottweiler dogs run from an arms dealers' truck and chase a military dog, that tackles both pursuing dogs and grabs them by the throat with its teeth (no blood is seen), knocks one dog over a short cliff (we hear later that its owner euthanized it after it bit him on the hand) and a teen boy hits the other Rottweiler in the face with a bicycle and we see the dog look up with a little blood on its lip and nose. A dog falls over a short drop off, stuck there temporarily.
 A man points a pistol at a barking dog and another soldier stops him from shooting it. A dog snarls at a man, pulls his chain out of the ground, and attacks the man, until a teen boy commands him to stop; the next day, a man kicks the dog and points a pistol at him until his son and wife stop the man from killing the dog. We see a man's hand bandaged after we hear that his dog bit him on the hand (we saw the quick bite occur, but no blood was shown). A Marine holds a muzzle and the camera cuts to the dog wearing it and then cuts to the Marine's face showing two sets of scratches. A dog retires, suffering from PTSD, jumping and barking at unexpected movements and noises, including July 4th fireworks; it jumps, barks, bares teeth, and growls at people, who look startled and afraid. A woman tells her family that the Marines will kill the dog that worked with her dead son and the family goes to the training site to retrieve him; the dog snaps and snarls at everyone except his dead handler's younger brother. At the funeral of a Marine that a dog worked with, the dog whines and struggles down the aisle to get to the flag draped coffin, where he stands and paws the flag, and then lies in front of the coffin until the service ends.
 A sheriff's deputy demands that a dog be euthanized and claims falsely that it bit his bandaged hand while another man present takes a teen boy into a room alone and threatens to have his family killed if the dog is not put down; we see the dog ride away in an animal control van and the camera cuts to the animal control clinic, where the dog barks and jumps, knocking down two men, and escapes.
 In two scenes, a boy on a bike sails over a chasm in the forest and near a railroad trestle, landing safely and falling on his side; he is unhurt in the first scene, but walks with a limp in the second scene, falling a couple of times. A boy hitchhikes with a dog to a veterinary clinic for treatment (we see no injuries). A teen boy pinches his finger when trying to change a bicycle tire, kicks the bike three times and throws it into the side of the garage.
 Two men attempt to sell stolen rifles and bazookas to a gang until the gang members back out of the deal and leave. A caption states that 26 military dogs and 23 handlers have died between 2003 and 2015. We hear that an Afghanistan war veteran's father is in prison. A teen boy asks his mother if she wants him to go to the bathroom outside with his dog (we see no bathroom activity) and she chuckles.
 A teen boy plays violent video games with soldiers throwing exploding hand grenades into buildings in the Middle East and of space ships shooting lasers at each other.
 A teen girl hits her teen cousin in the arm or on top of his bike helmet six times for teasing her.


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LANGUAGE 2 - 1 scatological term, 2 anatomical terms, 3 mild obscenities, name-calling (crazy, loco, stupid, psycho, fool, smart guy, junk, mean old man, old man, psycho-dog, white boy, white hicks, cold, maid, third wheel, blind, young studs, little mama [in Spanish]). stereotypical references to war veterans, soldiers, Mexicans, male chauvinists, fathers and sons, corrupt Marines, corrupt police officers, illegal arms dealers, teenagers, gangsters, heroes, villains, exclamations (shut-up). 5 religious exclamations (Oh My God, God Knows What, Waste ‘Em All And Let God Sort ‘Em Out, Thank God, A hymn at a funeral).


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SUBSTANCE USE - A man says that he takes medications because of shrapnel in his torso and spine (we learn that he is lying and uninjured). A glass of beer is seen on the edge of an outdoor grill table, a man uncaps a flask of alcohol and walks off-screen with it, a veteran turns down a beer and says that he cannot drink when taking meds (he does not say what meds), and a man holds a beer bottle and opens it (we do not see him drink).


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - War dogs, animal rights, Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, PTSD, alcoholism among veterans, anti-war feelings, illegal arms sales, Mexican gangs, machismo and chauvinism, courage, sacrifice, loyalty, hope, family, friendship, love, respect, trust, justice.

MESSAGE - Heroes tell the truth and remain loyal.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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