Max is a German Shepherd used to help U.S. Marines in Afghanistan. His handler is Kyle Wincott (Robbie Amell). Kyle keeps in touch with his family back home by joining a cam chat with his mom Pamela (Lauren Graham). His father Ray (Thomas Haden Church) served in the army as well, having gotten his leg shot off. Kyle's younger brother Justin (Josh Wiggins) doesn't really care for what Kyle and their father have done for their country, and he is mostly moody while playing video games.
Kyle is investigating an arms dealer with his unit. He learns that his friend Tyler Harne (Luke Kleintank) may be among those involved with these shady dealings. The two of them go into the battlefield with Max. The dog walks by a suicide bomber who sets off his explosives close to Max. The resulting explosion is traumatic to Max, and Kyle runs over to console him.
Justin makes money ripping video games for other people, while Ray wants him to work with him. Two men in uniforms show up at the Wincott home. Ray goes inside as the men talk to Pamela to inform them that Kyle has been killed in action. His body is brought back home for a burial. Max is brought in on a leash, struggling to break free. The man holding him lets Max go so that he can run to Kyle's coffin. Max whimpers and lies beside the coffin.
The other Marines notice that Max is only calm when he's around Justin, apparently sensing that he's Kyle's brother. Justin doesn't want to deal with Max, so he is sent to the pound. When Pamela tells Ray and Justin that Max is about to be put down, they bring him home. Ray puts Max on a chain that is nailed into the ground. Max won't stop barking and he keeps up the neighbors and Justin's parents. Justin stays outside and sleeps on the grass to keep Max quiet.
Justin goes to hang out with his friend Chuy (Dejon LaQuake) in the woods on their bikes. There, Justin meets Chuy's cousin Carmen (Mia Xitlali), who got kicked out of her house for getting a tattoo on her neck. Justin mentions Max, and Carmen offers to go to his house and show him some tricks with how to handle Max. She and Chuy go over later, with Chuy scared of Max, but Carmen gets Justin to try and form a trust between him and Max. Little by little, Max's behavior starts to improve around other people.
Tyler visits the Wincotts one evening. They bring him around outside to see Max. Max growls and pulls the chain out of the ground to run toward Tyler, but Justin holds Max back. In private, Ray asks Tyler what really happened to Kyle. Tyler implies that Max turned on Kyle and caused him to discharge his weapon on himself, leading to his death. Ray warns Justin that if any incident occurs with Max, he is going to get put down. Justin decides to do his own investigation in the matter, calling upon one of Kyle's old friends Sergeant Reyes (Jay Hernandez) for help. Reyes secretly gives Max a DVD of Kyle training Max, moving Justin to tears.
Justin is approached by Chuy's other cousin Emilio (Joseph Julian Soria), a Cartel member. He presses Justin over a video game rip that he wants and demands it by a certain time. Justin makes Emilio pay upfront, which he does. Afterwards, Justin and Max follow Emilio into the woods where he meets with other Cartel members, as well as Tyler. Tyler is about to sell weapons to them, but the Cartel's dogs sense Max as he is growling when he sees Tyler. The dogs run into the woods after the two. Max fights them off and severely wounds one of the dogs in its hind legs. Justin runs away and leaves his bike behind.
When he gets home, Justin sees Tyler next to his mom, along with Deputy Stack (Owen Harn), who is also in league with the villains. He has a bandage on his arm which he says is from a dog bite, and he claims he had to put down one of his dogs. They accuse Max of doing harm, and they want him to be put down as well. Tyler talks to Justin in private, telling him he now has to work with him so that nothing happens to his family. Chuy hears about the incident and tells Justin to leave him and Carmen out of it.
Max is taken away by animal control officers and is almost caged up at the facility, but he manages to overpower them and make his escape back home. Meanwhile, Ray, who has employed Tyler for his job, goes by his work site and finds Tyler making a business deal with the Cartel. Before Ray can react, Emilio holds him at gunpoint.
Max makes it home and finds Justin. Together, with Chuy and Carmen's help, they run back into the woods to find the villains and get Ray back. As the dawn breaks, the kids have found the villains with Ray being kept in Stack's truck. They send the other dog on Max, who gets the dog to chase him by the river. Max fights the dog and pushes it into the running river where it is taken to its doom. Emilio finds Chuy and demands to know who else is with him. Justin rides down on his bike and pushes Emilio down a hill where he breaks his leg after it slams against a rock. Ray knows his son is nearby and he incapacitates Stack. Justin reunites with his dad and hugs him. Ray shoots out the tires to the truck along with the engine. Tyler and Stack try chasing after Justin and Max. Tyler runs on foot while Stack drives, only to crash into a tree after Ray shoots at the truck again. The truck explodes, killing Stack. The weapons in the truck discharge due to the ignition.
Tyler chases Justin by a bridge that has gotten partially blown off with an explosive. Tyler aims his gun at Justin, while Ray tries to save his son but can't since he's out of bullets. At the last moment, Max runs by the bridge to save Justin. Tyler aims his gun at Max, only for Justin to kick him from underneath, giving Max a chance to pounce on Tyler and push him off the bridge to his death.
Emilio is arrested, and the family is back together again safely. Justin's relationship with his dad is better, and the family has welcomed Max into their home. Justin and Carmen also start going out. They, along with Chuy, join the Wincotts for dinner.
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