3.5 out of 5 stars
As the world comes to terms with mental health issues in our armed personnel, it is appropriate to consider that this could be the case for our canine warriors. Many viewers may not be aware of the use of dogs on the battlefield, even though it has been a practice for centuries. Like their human counterparts, these animals have proven to experience psychological trauma after returning from the war zone. Channing Tatum (Magic Mike) directs and stars in the story of a Belgian Malinois named Lulu. The dog has recently lost her owner and must be delivered to his funeral.
Since returning from Iraq, U.S. Army Ranger Jackson Briggs (Tatum) has found it challenging to adjust to life at home. He has sustained significant physical and mental injuries during his tours. Still, Jack hopes to return to the field as a private security officer. All he has to do is get the all-clear from his superior officer, who knows more about the soldier, to let him get back into combat. Still, the colonel allows Briggs to prove his worth by transporting Lulu to the funeral in Arizona. What seems like a simple five-day road trip proves to be more traumatic for the Ranger than anything he experienced during wartime.
Comedian W.C. Fields is credited with saying that actors should ’never work with children or animals.’ The witty wisdom meant that both would steal every scene and the adults on set would become bit players in the film. While this could be said of Britta, who plays the Belgian Malinois, Tatum does his best to capture the heart of the film. They work well with one another to show how these damaged warriors have a purpose of working together to heal their internal wounds. It is a familiar storyline that has been performed throughout the years. Still, this one does provide a contemporary spin that should capture the hearts of audiences.
If there is a surprising aspect to this film, Channing Tatum shows that he has skills behind the camera. He relies on his natural charisma and style to woo viewers into this heartwarming screenplay, but his eye for detail was impressive. He will not garner any awards for his first outing as director. Yet, the Magic Mike star should be given more turns in the director’s chair in the future. He does lean in on the gut-retching elements of post-traumatic stress to maintain the story arc's flow and manages to get a talented dog to lead the way. Still, Dog does prove to be a winning combination of grit, brokenness and heart that should win over anyone who chases after this film.
REEL DIALOGUE: We need to help those with mental health issues
Mental health was addressed in the lives of the soldiers affected by war and the animals that fought alongside them. There was no stigma attached to this screenplay and this story did show that some people do succumb to their inner demons. Yet, Dog indicates that there is a means of getting help for all experiencing this struggle in life.
Despite modern advancements and education, people still have a hard time knowing how to respond to mental illness. It is a subject that is not new to society; psychological issues are even something depicted in the canon of the Bible. There are references to individuals that struggle with these internal challenges and many found solace in prayer and God. The realities portrayed in the Bible help show that the answers can be found in the words of Jesus. God can help through the journey and know that seeking help is better than struggling alone.
Psalm 34:17-20 - The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.