Sometimes the title of a film can be really misleading. Take brand new film Dog for example. With the inclusion of Channing Tatum (White House Down) as the lead you could be forgiven for thinking that this would be something light and fluffy – a nice story about a man and his dog. But this film goes a lot deeper than that and instead explores the effects of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on both soldiers and their canine companions.
In Dog Tatum plays Jackson Briggs a former Army Ranger who has been discharged due to a head injury and his debilitating PTSD. Jackson finds life outside of the Army difficult though and he has registered interest in joining an agency that hires former soldiers out on diplomatic security details.
However in order to be accepted by the agency Jackson needs the okay from his former chief Jones (Luke Forbes – Atlanta) who his hesitant on signing off on it. However once he sees Jackson’s desperation and predicament he offers him a challenge. A family of a Ranger who recently took his own life wants the soldier’s service dog taken to his funeral for one final farewell. It seems like an easy job but when Jackson goes to pick up Lulu he soon realises that her injuries from the combat zone have left her as damaged as him and she is aggressive and mistrusting towards everybody.
There is no other way to say it – Dog is an emotional journey. Directed by first time feature directors Reid Carolin and Tatum himself this is a film that packs a serious punch as it becomes a no holds barred look at the damage that war does to those sent into the battlefield.
This could well be a pivotal moment in the career of Channing Tatum. There have been many in the past that have doubted his acting range from his past films but here Tatum puts in one of one the finest performances of his career to date. There are some scenes in this film where he has to dig deep as he portrays a character that has given up on life, goes through life threatening panic attacks and at times flirts with suicide. The fact that Tatum can take his character into that place and then in the next scene deliver one of the film’s fine man vs dog slapstick moments shows just what a fine actor Tatum can be.
The fact that Tatum backs up that performance with being a co-director on the film also shows us that he is a man of many talents. As a film Dog calls back to the journey style emotionally charged films like Grey Friar’s Bobby or Courage Of Lassie but incorporates the modern day feel of films like Nomadland. With perhaps a little less comedy and more focus on the drama Dog could easily have been a film that became a surprise packet when it came to award’s season.
People thinking about going to see Dog should be warned though that this is a film that will also take its audience into some emotional places. The film is hard-hitting and packs a powerful punch, not only as it explores the effects of war and mental battle scars on a former soldier but also with the way it depicts what happens to the many brave service dogs that go into battle alongside their human counterparts. Some of these scenes could be a trigger point for dog lovers but at the same time this film is a celebration of what our four-legged friends are willing to do for us and the bond they develop with their owners.
Dog is one of the more surprising films of 2022. Few people will expect the emotional journey that this film will take on them when they sit down in the cinema, but you should be warned this is a film that will take you on a real rollercoaster. Be prepared to laugh at times but definitely be ready to cry at others. This is a sensational piece of cinema that finally sees Channing Tatum take the next big step in his career.