Opening 27 Jul 2017
Writing credits: Steven Levant
Principal actors: Zane Austin, Francesca Capaldi, Lochlyn Munro, Andrew Kavadas, Reese Alexander
“Desperate times call for desperate measures” according to security agents in the US White House. President Blake Bennett (Munro) and his wife, First Lady Maureen (Genzeld), are expecting “that crazy Kremlin cowboy” Russian President Bragov (Kavadas) and his entourage for an important visit. In this case, the “measures” entail full security with the help of a dog named Max, trained to sniff out any danger. Max’s arrival is perfectly timed with the loneliness of 12-year-old TJ (Austin), the son of the president. TJ has the advantages of living in the White House (his own private bowling alley) and his own code name (baby bird), but also the responsibilities and security-forced isolation which prevent him from experiencing any real friends, except perhaps the chef named Coop who says, “We x-ray everything that comes into the kitchen.” That Max is the perfect friend in more ways than one becomes clear as the film develops. Bragov arrives with his daughter Alexandra (Capaldi) in tow; she has long fire-y red hair and a delightful accent when speaking English. Gradually Alex (as she is called) and TJ become reluctant friends after a shared moment of danger, involving spies at work, something which secret agent Thorn (Alexander) seems to have missed. With Max’s help they begin to investigate.
Director Levant and screenwriter Altiere pick up on the original Max character created by Boaz Yakin and Sheldon Lettich for the film Max in 2015. Their excellent decision to move to the White House in this era (2017) of breaking news streaming from Washington D.C. where the current U.S. President lives in the White House with his wife and 11-year-old son, adds to the pertinence of the film. In Max 2 the President is meeting with the Russian leader? Who would have thought? They go on marathon riding matches and “raft down wild rapids like men.” Bragov bring his own chef who cooks borscht. Will they ever sit down to discuss major world problems?
The storyline of Max 2 is quite different from the original; it can’t actually be called a sequel. Zane Austin plays TJ very well, but Francesca Capaldi as Alex steals the show. Luckily I could see it in English, so could appreciate her “Russian” accent. Kathryn Kirkpatrickas fat Russian security agent Olga is also someone to watch. There is action and suspense, with perhaps a short three minutes to be bored. In the end all agree: “We may be the first family but we are family first.” Stay for the credits, where you will have the rare opportunity to see many former US presidents photographed with their dogs at the White House. (Becky Tan)