The most moving scene in Megan Leavey, Hollywood’s latest big-budget war drama, doesn't take place in the desert, or on the bomb-cratered streets of Ramadi, but rather in a quiet neighborhood in upstate New York. The film’s title character, played by Kate Mara, wakes up in the middle of the night to a loud, wailing sound coming from outside her bedroom window. She’s just returned from Iraq. Half-awake, she stumbles into the yard, where she sees her father walking towards his car. “Don’t open it!” Leavey screams. Her father, confused, tells her the noise is just a car alarm. It takes a moment for Leavey to realize where she is, and that nothing is about to explode. All of the drama unfolds on her face. And that’s it. Scene over.
Fans of movies about the Global War on Terror are in luck. At least five big-budget war films set in either Iraq or Afghanistan (or, in the case of “Mine,” some nondescript desert in the Middle East) will premiere in the U.S. in the next several months. But only one, “Megan Leavey,” features a female lead — and it’s the only one that shares a name with a real-life service member.