Like most writers, I do deep research about unfamiliar subjects. Actually, even familiar ones. The reason is simple. We want to get into the heads and hearts of our characters. And the sole way to do that is total immersion in their worlds. Only then can the person, albeit a fictional one, take shape enough to feel as if he or she were sitting next to you while you're reading about him or her.
I was having a good deal of trouble with a main character in a new story until I decided that he would be a Marine handler for a war dog. After reading six, maybe seven books about military war dogs, and a few on recent canine research, he took off and I had to scramble to keep up with him.
Most of us know next to nothing about dogs. Even if they belong to us.
Or about their capabilities.
Or about how they react to trauma.
Now that I've done all this research, I know enough to opine that the screenwriters, director and actors in Max got it right.
I haven't read any of the reviews but will hazard a guess that most reviewers, like most people would regard some of the behaviors portrayed by Max in the movie as over the top. Like the desperate lunge for the dead body of his handler. Like the depression and ferocity directed at anyone not his handler. Most of us still have no idea of the astonishing capabilities of our four-legged friends. But the Belgian Malinois playing Max got it right. Better than right. The dog is brilliant and beautiful.
I had only one criticism of the movie. At the end, during the several minutes of real film footage showing the history of war dogs and the Marine Corps starting with World War l, I waited to see films of Doberman war dogs during World War ll but there were none. That oversight was very disappointing.