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Short takes

Not recommended under 10; parental guidance recommended 10-13 due to violence and disturbing scenes and themes

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Max
  • a review of Max completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 3 August 2015.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes and themes
Children 10 to 13 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes and themes
Children aged 13 and over OK for this group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Max
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and violence
Length: 111 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Max is an American adventure film that follows the story of Max, a military-trained Belgian Malinois dog. Max is intelligent, brave and handsome. He was chosen to assist US Marines in Afghanistan and his handler is Kyle Wincott (Robbie Amell). At one point, Kyle discovers that his friend and comrade Tyler (Luke Kleintank) has been illegally selling recovered weapons. After Kyle tells Tyler that he will not cover for him, Tyler allows Kyle to be killed in battle in an effort to protect his secrets from being discovered.

Without his handler, Max falls into a terrible psychological state. When Kyle’s family eventually takes him in, Max only responds well to Kyle’s brother Justin (Josh Wiggins). Justin himself is struggling to deal with Kyle’s death, and also the pressures of living up to his family’s standards.

When Tyler visits the Wincott family, he tries to convince everyone that Kyle’s death was the result of Max becoming violent and turning on Kyle. However, on an unrelated visit into the woods one night, Justin sees Tyler selling weapons to several cartel members. Max and Justin are overheard, and a fight breaks out. When Max and Justin escape, they begin a crusade to prove that Tyler is guilty and avenge Kyle’s death.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Relationships; war and conflict; revenge

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence within the film, including:

  • The film takes place within the context of the Afghanistan war. As a result, there is some war-related violence – e.g. soldiers are killed in an explosion. 
  • There is a scene of dogs attacking each other, and one dog is killed in a fight.
  • Max becomes threatening and antisocial after Kyle dies - he is seen locked up in a military cage, and snarls or barks aggressively at everyone who walks past
  • Characters threaten people with large guns and other weapons – someone is held at gunpoint.
  • A character is pushed down a hill, and breaks his leg as a result.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Children of this age are likely to be disturbed by the violent scenes described above

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the violent scenes and the death of Kyle. Max is injured near the end of the film and lies on the ground as if dead for a moment. This may distress young children, as may Max’s distress at Kyle’s funeral and the injury of another dog.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

Nothing of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

There is mild sexual activity and nudity, including:

  • A teenage boy and girl kiss and embrace.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • A character is offered a bottle of beer by another.

Coarse language

There is mild use of coarse language, including:

  • ‘Freaking’

In a nutshell

Max is an inspiring story about triumphing over loss and a battle of good versus evil. The film follows US military dog Max as he recovers from the loss of his handler Kyle alongside Kyle’s brother Justin who is also struggling with grief after Kyle’s death. The movie emphasises the importance of support from loved ones in difficult times. It also strongly highlights issues of morality such as the question of doing illegal or immoral things for money, or trying to do the right thing. The film also explores the concept of honesty, and the importance of owning up to one’s mistakes.

The film is recommended for viewers over 13. It is not recommended for under 10s because of violent scenes, and scenes of dogs being injured and in distress. Parental guidance is recommended for the 10-13 age group.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • The consequences of war and social conflict upon individuals and society.
  • Dealing with conflicts and differences of opinion within parent-child relationships.
  • Issues of grief, and how they affect those who are bereaved.