Forget cuddly Lassie telling Timmy someone’s stuck down a well: the canine star of this movie is far more kick-ass – Max has trained with the US Marines and can sniff out guns and bombs. When his handler, Kyle, is killed in Afghanistan, Max (who is suffering from PTSD) is returned to the US and deposited with Kyle’s family.
The dog only responds to Kyle’s pouting teenage brother Justin (Wiggins) and soon boy and dog are helping each other. But just as it’s all getting cute ‘n’ fuzzy, things take a sinister turn as Justin suspects there may be more to his brother’s death than everyone thinks.
While the first part of the movie is enjoyable but predictable, director Boaz Yakin sharpens things up as the second half becomes a surprisingly tense thriller (note – for this reason, the movie isn’t suitable for younger and sensitive viewers). Performances from boy and dog are believable, and older kids who aren’t quite ready for grown-up thrillers and war movies will find this an often moving and even gripping treat.
Is Max suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Parents should note this is a 12A certificate thriller so not suitable for younger viewers (under 10s). Sensitive viewers will be upset by Max mourning his master and there are threats to Max and Justin, and a few fights that are disturbing.