Dan's Review: "Thank You for Your Service" takes on the unseen scars of war
Oct 27, 2017 11:36PM
● By Dan Metcalf
Miles Teller and Beulah Koale in Thank You for Your Service - © 2017 Universal/Dreamworks.
Thank You for Your Service (Universal/Dreamworks)
Rated R for strong violent content, language throughout, some sexuality, drug material and brief nudity.
Starring Miles Teller, Haley Bennett, Beulah Koale, Joe Cole, Amy Schumer, Brad Beyer, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Scott Haze, Omar Dorsey, Jayson Warner Smith, Sean P Mcgoldrick, Kate Lyn Sheil.
Written by Jason Hall, based on the book by David Finkel.
Directed by Jason Hall.
“War is Hell,” the saying goes. No one knows this more than war veterans themselves, and there are a lot of them living around us in the days following the recent conflicts in the Middle East, most notably Afghanistan and Iraq. Thank You for Your Service is a movie based on the struggles of a few brave men who fought and survived the war in Iraq.
Miles Teller plays the real-life Staff Sgt. Adam Schumann, a decorated soldier who returns home with his buddies Tausolo “Solo” Aieti (Beulah Koale) and Will Waller (Joe Cole). Adam appears to be just fine despite experiencing several traumatic battles, including one in which he attempted to rescue Emory (Scott Haze) a member of his unit who took a bullet to the head. Will discovers that his fiancé has left him, taking his money and child away. Solo has health troubles from apparent PTSD and some brain trauma, having survived improvised explosive device (IED) attacks during his tours of duty. Adam seems fine but withdrawn, troubling his wife Saskia (Haley Bennett). As the men try to adjust to civilian life, the horrors of war won’t go away, and eventually creep out into the open. Seeking help or a means to numb themselves, Adam and Solo deal with their situations by seeking assistance with the Veteran’s Administration, but run into a lot of red tape and a backlog of available treatment. Solo’s wife Alea (Keisha Castle-Hughes) is pregnant, but she fears for her life as Solo slips in and out of rage, seeking to numb his pain with drugs. Adam compartmentalizes his demons, while avoiding Amanda Doster (Amy Schumer), the wife a fallen comrade. Adam blames himself for her husband’s death and carries that guilt until it nearly consumes him.
Thank You for Your Service is a profound film about the casualties that occur after deployment. The sad part is, war continues to be “Hell” even after the bullets stop flying and IEDs are no longer part of the landscape. Thank You for Your Service perfectly depicts this struggle, if only from a small sample of varying war experiences. My brother served three tours in Iraq. He saw the film, and confided that it was a fair depiction of what war does to survivors. He also said that every soldier’s experience and their reaction to witnessing the horrors of war is unique. Such variations are part of the casualties of war, making treatment and support difficult to pin down, for the soldiers and their loved ones.
Miles Teller’s performance in Thank You for Your Service is his best yet, and it seems he’s well on his way to making a quality body of work, eschewing the “party dude” roles of his early career. It’s clear that he’s a gifted actor. The same can be said of his supporting cast, including newcomer Beaulah Koale, Haley Bennett and even Amy Schumer in her first dramatic role (it’s nice to see can she do more than just crack tasteless jokes about her lady parts).
Thank You for Your Service, is not a perfect film, but it hits most of the notes needed to tell the true story of Shumann and his mates. Perhaps there are oversimplifications at hand, but war films, like war itself can get messy.
So, if you see Thank You for Your Service, please take into account that many veterans of many wars may be walking around without visible battle scars. Give them support, give them the love they need and the help they deserve for placing themselves in harm’s way. It’s the best way we can truly thank them.
Thank You for Your Service Trailer