Channing Tatum makes his directorial debut with a poignant canine road movie about military trauma in woke America

It opens in theaters ‘Dog. Wild Ride’ (2022), the behind-the-scenes debut of actor Channing Tatum, which he co-directed with Reid Carolin, and with a script by Brett Rodríguez, head of the ‘Magic Mike’ franchise, about a true story and some of your own experiences with your pet, a new doggy movie that strays a bit from the image of white entertainment that its trailer makes seem to introduce some more gray topics.

And it is that canine cinema does not stop coming to the cinema and since the emotional ‘Always by your side, Hachiko’ (2009) many others have been released such as ‘Your best friend’ (A Dog’s Purpose, 2017), ‘Alpha’ ( 2018), or the spectacular ‘Togo’ (2019), which have repeated the surprising relationship between canines and humans, with a mixture of admiration, respect for animals and another point of disclosure about their importance and help in people with different difficulties, as is the case at hand.

In ‘Dog’ we have a Belgian shepherd named Lulu, played by three furry actorswho has served in the US Army in Iraq and Afghanistan, as has Tatum’s character, Jackson Briggs, a former Army Ranger who lives in a cabin with a history of brain injuries that has kept him out action, but hopes that a recommendation from his commanding officer will give him the opportunity to return to the front lines.

Dogs, trauma and healing

To make that happen, Jackson agrees to accompany Lulu from Fort Lewis, Washington, to Nogales, Arizona. The reason for the road trip is that the animal could not withstand a plane trip, and the funeral of his guide is held, a ranger whose death in a car accident has left Lulu an orphan. Of course there will be all kinds of problems and misunderstandings on the way from Oregon through Los Angeles.

As he learns to tame the animal, Jackson also discovers past connections between it and its owner, both in person and through a lengthy and highly detailed notebook kept by the deceased Ranger. This creates a palette of hilarious situations and entanglements, but also a reflection of the protagonist’s own problems, who he is really dealing with ‘Dog’, actually. a study of the effects of post-traumatic stress in the military and how it has become a social problem in United States.

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For this reason, in recent years there has been no lack of films such as ‘Duty fulfilled’ (Thank You for Your Service, 2017) that addressed abandonment of veterans struggling with combat PTSDIn the form of a drama, in fact, ‘Dog’ can be considered almost a sequel or spiritual companion to ‘Megan Leavey’ (2017), a biopic of a military woman and her explosives-sniffing dog, which also touched on very similar themes. Here Rigg has migraines and ailments caused by physical injuries in battle, but the film never directly addresses the problems common to soldiers, subtly hinting at the result of their anxiety and social isolation.

A slice of America

Lulu becomes the objective reflection of her problems, her behavioral conflict, aggressive reactions and fear, almost an epiphany for the viewer and for the character himself, that something is happening to him. There are jokes and funny situations, but there is also always the pain, and the challenges of life after combat for two wounded warriors who take action and learn to trust each other, in a beautiful symbiosis treated with very good pulse and emotion always contained.

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There are some very Clint Eastwood movie details, showing Briggs’s efforts to adapt to American wokewith some jokes about toxic masculinity, animalists, and a white savior complex that draw a society concerned about just causes but that leaves its heroes to their fate, concerns that contrast with the real problem of soldiers who have social adjustment problems and are perceived with prejudice. At one point when Lulu attacks a man with a djellaba, which she somewhat reminds of ‘White dog‘ (1982), the aspect of programmed racism is left suspended, and the military’s automation of certain behaviors.

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‘Dog’ has strikingly beautiful photography, aiding its tone of roadside comfort, sweet sunsets, sunbursts in pretty postcard shots of the western countryside set to classic, country and rock songs that generate an unmistakable flavor of undisguised American vindication in the style of 70s road moviesbut basically it is about two warriors licking each other’s wounds, without resorting to easy tears, but without avoiding being moving and sincere.