Dogs have been man’s best friend for eons. It’s only natural that the military would choose the faithful dog as a model for the expensive attack robot nicknamed A-X-L. After Miles (Alex Neustaedter) and Sara (Becky G.) find the runaway robo-dog, the teens find themselves in the center of some unwanted attention—part high-school drama, part aggressive-military intervention. Imbued with self-sacrificial love for his owner, A-X-L plays a convincing role as he protects Miles and Sara from these jealous and possessive enemies.
A-X-L’s storyline is classic but compelling. Two restless teens find a dog that challenges them to grow in the midst of peril as only a faithful hound can. It’s natural for audiences to fall in love with a noble pooch on-screen as it exhibits undying faithfulness to the people it trusts. But this time, the audience is presented with an aggressive looking hunk of metal that only thinks it is a dog. If treated with kindness, A-X-L becomes playful and affectionate. If mistreated, he becomes scared and aggressive. Of course, animals should be treated with kindness and respect, but is A-X-L a real dog?
A-X-L steps right up to its PG boundary and may even venture outside it at times. Expect mild swearing, scenes of action and violence, revealing clothing, lingering kisses, occasional partying with implied underage drinking, and some illegal activity—such as stealing—which is not followed by negative consequences. There are positive elements as well: Miles and Sara want to do the right thing and develop more integrity as the film progresses. Still, A-X-L is a risky bet for younger children, so please be sure to scan the content grid before you go. Dove.org awards A-X-L the 12+ Dove Seal of Approval but does so with caution.
The Dove Take
Though pushing the limits of PG, A-X-L provides a thrilling and relevant coming-of-age story where a robotic dog helps Miles realize what is worth fighting for.