Kate Mara stars in a scene from the movie "Megan Leavey." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (CNS photo/Bleecker Street)
NEW YORK (CNS) -- Man's best friend is also a lifesaver in "Megan Leavey" (Bleeker Street), the inspiring true story of a female Marine corporal and the bomb-sniffing dog she bonded with during the Iraq War.
Leavey (born in 1983) and Rex, her trusty German shepherd, together completed more than 100 combat missions in Fallujah and Ramadi, uncovering roadside bombs and caches of weapons, before an explosion sidelined both in 2006.
It's a supremely heroic and exciting story that transfers well to the big screen, directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite from a screenplay by Pamela Gray, Annie Mumolo and Tim Lovestedt.
We first meet Megan (Kate Mara) before she enlists -- and her life does not make a pretty picture. A listless and depressed 20-year-old, she's mourning the overdose death of her best friend and coping with her parents' ugly divorce.
Megan lives with her harridan of a mother, Jackie (Edie Falco). Her sensitive father, Bob (Bradley Whitford), provides a refuge from Mom's persistent nagging.
On a whim, Megan decides to jump-start her life by enlisting in the Marines. It's a huge leap from her shiftless existence to such a regimented life, and rebellious Megan butts heads often with her superiors.
Caught urinating in public after a night on the town, Megan is nearly expelled. Her punishment is to clean out the cages of the K9 Division, the elite unit of bomb-sniffing dogs headed by Gunnery Sgt. Martin (Common).