Dog movie review & film summary (2022)

Briggs needs sign-off from an officer to be readmitted to the Rangers, who call themselves “the Army’s premier direct-action raid force.” He has been repeatedly turned down. Finally, an officer says he will authorize Briggs’ reinstatement if he will perform one task, delivering an Army dog to the funeral of a veteran who served with Briggs. The dog is Lulu, a sweet-faced Belgian Malinois who performed many brave rescue operations, but who now is so severely traumatized from being in a war zone that no one can go near her. She has sent three people to the emergency room and been deemed un-salvageable. Until the funeral, she is muzzled and on Prozac. After the funeral, she is scheduled to be put down. 

Briggs, who has said he would do anything to get back into the service, does not want to do this. “You’re asking me to take a dog on a plane to Arizona?” The officer responds, “I’m asking you to drive a Ranger to a funeral.” The dog is too unstable to fly; indeed, Briggs is warned not to let her near any person or animal. But if Briggs can deliver Lulu with no mistakes and no trouble, he can get the approval he needs.

Of course, there will be mistakes and there will be trouble on the road from Oregon to Arizona by way of Los Angeles. There will also be connections from the past, both in person and via an extensive, heartfelt, and very detailed notebook kept by Lulu’s Ranger handler. 

Tatum the actor responds exceptionally well to Tatum the co-director (along with co-screenwriter Reid Carolin, both directing a feature for the first time). In his previous films, Tatum has mostly relied on his natural all-American charm, a boy-we’d-like-to-have-next-door combination of confident strength and self-deprecating humor. We have seen him unhappy and under stress but almost always as a character who keeps those feelings hidden. Here we see his range, with more vulnerability than he has shown on screen before. Briggs tries his utmost to hide his struggle from everyone, including himself. But Tatum lets us see it, without consideration for movie star vanity.

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