Approximately a quarter of American law enforcement professionals have served in the military, according to the Department of Justice.

It is precisely that common professional transition that drew director John Stalberg Jr. to write and direct his latest film, “Muzzle.”

Starring Aaron Eckhart as a veteran-turned-police officer in the Los Angeles Police Department’s K9 Platoon, the film drops Eckhart’s character, Jake Rosser, into a shootout with drug dealers on the streets of Los Angeles. Amid the chaos, Rosser’s canine partner Ace is shot and killed.

Rosser’s subsequent quest for justice, one reminiscent of “John Wick,” eventually leads the officer down a rabbit hole of major conspiracy.

“He’s sort of forced to confront the animal in himself, the things he’s dealt with in his past through his combat experience,” Stalberg told Military Times.

In order to complete his mission, however, Rosser selects a new canine partner named “Socks,” a dog with a troublesome past that seems to mirror her human counterpart.

“We tried to reflect that literally by using mirrors, through a sequence where there’s a shattered mirror when he’s fighting a guy in an abandoned house in Bel Air,” Stalberg said. “We sort of have the mirror rocking from Socks to the reflection to Jake, back to Socks to Jake. There’s these kind of parallels throughout the film that Socks has this checkered background.”

The dog, in some ways, is also representative of the animal within Rosser that’s prone to getting loose.

“We wanted to create a personified version of Jake in the animal as a character in the film, but also a metaphor for what he’s dealing with,” Stalberg said. “It’s the trauma that he’s fighting to control. We sort of distilled it down to this movie about controlling your animal — the actual animal and the animal that’s inside him.”

“Muzzle” premieres on Sept. 29.

Observation Post is the Military Times one-stop shop for all things off-duty. Stories may reflect author observations.

Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.

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