Megan Leavey isnt quite as inspiring as its story

MEGAN LEAVEY (Gabriela Cowperthwaite). 120 minutes. Opens Friday (June 9). See listing. Rating: NNNMegan Leavey is about a woman who.

MEGAN LEAVEY (Gabriela Cowperthwaite). 120 minutes. Opens Friday (June 9). See listing. Rating: NNN

Megan Leavey is about a woman who had to go to war to learn to fight for a cause. The true story is inspiring, the movie a little less so.

The dramatic debut of Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite gives Kate Mara (House Of Cards The Martian) a well-earned showcase as the eponymous Marine dog handler, who spent two tours in Iraq working in explosives detection with canine partner Rex and ultimately petitioned Congress to adopt the dog after they were both injured by an IED.

Given the genuine heroism at the heart of this story, you might brace for an aggressively patriotic treatment or the tense courage-under-fire approach of The Hurt Locker or, well, Courage Under Fire.

Instead, Cowperthwaite and her screenwriters (among them Bridesmaids Annie Mumolo) choose no tone at all theyve settled for a flat, uninflected style that respects Leaveys story at the cost of taking all the life out of it.

Mara is terrific at illustrating Leaveys complexities, especially in her scenes with Ramon Rodriguez as a military love interest and Bradley Whitford as her father. And the dogs who play Rex over a decade or so are beautiful animals I could have watched them sniff around and paw at stuff for hours.

But the film around them never distinguishes itself, cranking out one familiar scene after another. Its a strange experience, watching a movie while knowing its not telling the best version of its story.

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