(I) (2015)

Critic Reviews



Based on 25 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
The heart of Max is a boy learning about an always faithful dog, and as sentimental and manipulative as their bonding moments are, that’s what works.
When the movie morphs from a story of mutual healing into a crime-fighting caper, it goes off track.
Max is a genial if somewhat old-fashioned tale that’s too clunky to transcend its genre(s) but effective enough within its own limited emotional range.
None of these plot points are run through with any thoughtfulness or panache. Despite a great, unaffected performance by Wiggins — the only one among the cast — and the primal joy of seeing the dog actors sprinting, leaping and maybe even emoting, the film is sunk because the characters never transcend their seeming origins in a Disney Channel movie project.
It is dull and weird — weird in that way that it is pronounced we-ee-eird, the stretched vowel signaling a weirdness that is probably unconscious on the part of the filmmakers.
It’s too bad the film doesn’t provide a better sense of what makes the Belgian Malinois so uniquely suited to the battlefield, or find a way to pay more than lip service to the deep bonds developed between military men and animals.
The screenplay muddles its emotional core with a clunky cross between old-fashioned Hardy Boys mystery and a far-fetched weapons-trafficking subplot.
There’s a touching story here about a boy getting over his grief and narcissism by nursing a dog through its own set of traumas, but Max is far too gung-ho about playing up the pup’s heroism and self-sacrifice to give it much time to develop.
Director Boaz Yakin (“Remember the Titans”) indulges in an awful lot of gunplay for a PG-rated family film, but sure knows how to stage a dirt-bike race. The Belgian malinoises who play Max way out-act the humans.
Slant Magazine
It hits its Red State beats so hard that its target audience likely won't notice they're being not only condescended to, but insulted outright.

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