Thank You for Your Service (2017)

  • Time: 108 min
  • Genre: Biography | Drama | War
  • Director: Jason Hall
  • Cast: Miles Teller, Haley Bennett, Amy Schumer

Storyline:

DreamWorks Pictures’ Thank You for Your Service follows a group of U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq who struggle to integrate back into family and civilian life, while living with the memory of a war that threatens to destroy them long after they’ve left the battlefield. Starring an ensemble cast led by Miles Teller, Haley Bennett, Joe Cole, Amy Schumer, Beulah Koale, Scott Haze, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Brad Beyer, Omar J. Dorsey and Jayson Warner Smith, the drama is based on the bestselling book by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author David Finkel. Jason Hall, who wrote the screenplay of American Sniper, makes his directorial debut with Thank You for Your Service and also serves as its screenwriter. Jon Kilik (The Hunger Games series, Babel) produces the film, while Ann Ruark (Biutiful) and Jane Evans (Sin City) executive produces.

One comment

  • War-themed films often focus on soldiers in combat rather than the often more difficult reintegration into civilian life, which may be part of the reason that Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper struck such a chord four years ago. Though there have been films such as Stop-Loss and The Lucky Ones, one would have to go all the way back to Michael Cimino’s 1978 masterpiece, The Deer Hunter, for a film that truly touched upon the harrowing experiences of soldiers adjusting to life back home. As such, the very existence of Thank You for Your Service, adapted from David Finkel’s 2013 non-fiction book by first-time director Jason Hall, is a welcome one, undeniably affecting, fairly clear-eyed, and always earnest in its intentions if not so fluid in its execution.

    The film begins on an Iraqi rooftop as a group of soldiers find themselves under fire from snipers. One of them, Michael Emory (Scott Haze), is shot in the head. Sergeant Adam Schumann (Miles Teller) slings Emory over his shoulder and starts to make his way down the stairs. With Emory’s blood streaming down Adam’s face and the building quaking, it’s no surprise that he drops Emory. Emory survives, but the memory of that moment haunts Adam as he and his buddies Solo (Beulah Koale) and Billy (Joe Cole) return home.

    Unlike Emory, who is now a hemiplegic, the three men appear outwardly undamaged yet not all scars are physical. They may receive a hero’s welcome but that applause fades soon enough as does the support system the men had when they were in battle. Now men trained to be killing machines are dropped back into society to fend for themselves. Mental health care institutions that should be helping all can only help a few and even those few have to navigate all the bureaucratic red tape so they can go from one waiting list to another.

    Wives and partners have to deal with men who are far different than the ones they remembered. Billy comes home to a broken engagement and an empty house and shoots himself in front of his former fiancee. Adam seems adjusted enough, putting on a happy face for his loving wife Saskia (Haley Bennett) and kids. Yet Saskia twigs that something’s not right but, as she points out to him, she can’t help him if he doesn’t let her know what’s wrong. Adam has never really reconciled himself to the idea that, no matter what you do or how hard you try, you cannot save everybody. He knows he needs help, but feels he can handle it on his own. It’s only when he falls asleep one night with his baby on his chest and rolls, the baby falling and screaming, that he realises the depth of the guilt he’s carried from dropping Emory.

    Teller is heartbreaking as a man loyal to his comrades, but Koale just surpasses him as Solo, who is desperate to return for another tour of duty despite his severe PTSD and memory loss. Though Hall sometimes layers Solo’s narrative with a bit too much melodrama and symbolism – Solo falling in with a gang of criminals, Solo rescuing a pit bull injured from dogfighting – Koale makes Solo a poignant figure, a noble warrior who finds himself irreparably lost.

    Thank You for Your Service doesn’t purport to know all the answers, it doesn’t pretend that PTSD is something that can be easily treated or even treated at all. What it means to do is shine a light on how a country is letting down the men who fought hard to protect it and who should be cared for instead of disregarded.

    Click here for more reviews at the etc-etera site

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *