I grew up reading two or three Hardy Boys novels each week during the summer much to my Mom’s chagrin. She used to tell me to get my nose out of a book and go do something constructive, preferably outside. Max, a new film from Boaz Yakin (Remember the Titans), feels like a throw-back the adventures of Frank and Joe with some Lassie thrown in.
Kyle Wincott (Robbie Amell) talks to his family via Skype from Kandahar Province where he and his specially-trained Marine dog, Max, are stationed. When Kyle is killed, Max suffers from PTSD. The dog is sent home but he won’t let anyone approach him until Max and Justin (Josh Wiggins), Kyle’s video game-addicted little brother, come face-to-face.
Max is a fairly typical boy-and-his-dog story which takes an exciting twist when the duo gets wind of an illegal arms trading deal involving one of Kyle’s Marine buddies. There’s a little more violence than your usual early teen flick but it still stays within the realm of family-friendly film.
As Justin helps Max adapt to his new life, Max helps Justin come out of his gaming shell and get involved in his own life. Justin’s parents, Pamela and Ray(Lauren Graham and Thomas Haden Church), showcase the patience and love involved in raising a teen, let alone a grieving one. Ray, a veteran himself, delivers the words of wisdom to live by. He tells Justin, “A true hero is one who always tells the truth no matter what the consequences are.”