by Charles Kirkland Jr.
Pulitzer Prize winner David Finkel’s book comes to life as Miles Teller plays an Iraqi War that has come home in Thank You For Your Service.
Sergeant Adam Schumann (Miles Teller) and his buddies come home from the Iraq War and find nothing is the same. One buddy, Will Waller (Joe Cole), comes home to find that his girlfriend has moved out with his daughter and cleaned out his bank account. Specialist Tausolo Aieti (Beulah Koale) returns home with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) that makes it hard for him to remember things. Sgt. Adam comes home to find that his wife, Saskia (Haley Bennett) has sold their home in order to make ends meet.
Unfortunately, all three of them are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of the action they encountered during their time in the war. One encounter, in particular, ensures that they are not the same either.
Thank You For Your Service was the companion book to The Good Soldiers where David Finkel documented the lives of real soldiers with whom he was embedded in Iraq. Jason Hall, who also wrote American Sniper, wrote and directed the movie Thank You based upon Finkel’s book. Both American Sniper and Thank You For Your Service contain very similar themes.
Historically, most of the great “war” movies focused on the action and battles of the war they were fighting. With Sniper and this movie, Hall seems to be carving out his niche in the trench of movies like Born On The Fourth of July, Jarhead, and Body of War that is focused on the battle at home. Where Thank You differs from its predecessor is that it is not centered around one just person’s return home. While Adam Schumann may appear to be the main character, he is more of a uniting force between all the characters in the story. Hall creates an intimate and personal story that feels genuine and real in a way that none of the others do. There’s nothing fantastic about their journey. In most cases, it is the ordinary and mundane everyday tasks that cause Adam and company the most problems. While PTSD, lack of governmental support and abandonment affect our heroes daily and each of them has personal tragedies that make them want to isolate themselves, it is clear that their survival at home is just as much a team effort as it was in Iraq.
While full of social commentary, Service is a look at the re-integration of soldiers in the military that feels genuine and more real than any other movies before. The movie is filled with poignant, bold and sometimes shockingly frank moments and conversations. Pain and struggle dominate as the returning heroes search for assistance with getting back to life.
However, the movie also documents the struggle of the wives and families who realize the men that came home are very different from the ones who left. Haley Bennett does an outstanding job being the wife that is juggling trying to be supportive and struggling to get her husband to confide in her to release his pain. Comedian Amy Schumer takes a sharp dramatic turn in this film as a grieving wife who has a connection to Adam that is deeper than she even knows.
Rated R for strong violent content, language throughout, some sexuality, drug material and brief nudity, Thank You For Your Service is an honest and sincere look into the horrors that can await our soldiers upon their return home. It is powerful and remarkable and serves as a cautionary tale for all who see it about what we can do to bring them all home.