Max is advertised as a film about a marine dog active in Afghanistan but gets traumatized. Why and how I won't spoil but it matters much lesser than you think.
I was under the impression we would get to see a sincere film about what dogs like Max mean and do to aid the soldiers. Who like the humans also get affected by the terrors and cruelties of war. How would one cope with such a dog and what would be needed to heal the dog? Sadly though this film is not about Max. He only serves as a plot device. The real story is about Justin Wincott (Josh Wiggins). He is very angry about his brother's choice and the consequences of that choice. It is Max who helps him mellow and see reason. I would have been just fine with this film being about the friendship between Justin and Max. Only at one point the film turns to such a boring and done to death plot development that I pretty much lost interest. Mind you I would have tolerated it better had there been an emotional connection to Justin. But that is strangely absent. In fact it is very hard to connect to any of the Wincott household since their characters lack depth, soul and common sense.
Which brings me to the core problem of Max. The film lacks heart. Apart from one moving scene everything is bland and superficial. Characters act nonsensical and are hardly sympathetic. Only Max is incredibly likable if only there would be more of him. It is almost hard to accept that director Boaz Yakin who also did Remember the Titans has no clue what to do with this topic. He had a wonderful premise to work with and he completely ignores the exceptional fact that Max is a dog who has been trained to serve and aid in real combat. How hard can it be to show what he does? And often he must have saved lives by warning people.
For me Max was very different from what I expected it to be and while not entirely bad it was not that compelling. To me it felt like a waste of time. And before I get accused of being a dog hater. I loved Max in this. Only he is pushed into a supporting role undoubtedly because the human cast could not compete with his acting chops. When will Hollywood stop to discriminate.