Rob Reviews "Thank You For Your Service"
There tend to be two kinds of films when it comes to war and the military: the kind where you have the against-all-odds soldiers achieving the impossible to protect the freedoms that we enjoy every day and the “war is hell” stories that paint a bleaker picture of pain, fear, and loss. Just like with most storytelling, both are right, both are wrong, neither are right, and neither are wrong. Much like a painting done by different artists, the more perspectives that are given on a particular subject matter give those that consume that subject matter a more complete picture. In the matter of Jason Hall’s take on David Finkel’s book “Thank You for Your Service,” there is a little bit of both and a little bit of neither.
Miles Teller plays Sergeant Adam Shumann, who is returning from a particularly rigorous tour of the Middle East that involved loss and damage to some of his compatriots. Along with Solo (Beulah Koale) and Will (Joe Cole), they each bring their own parts in their shared adventures home with them with varying results and one thing in common: darkness.
“Thank You for Your Service” is a film that actually works on a few different levels for me. Going in, I was worried that its message would borderline on a political statement or venture into the territory of caricature, but it doesn’t do either of those things more than it has to. This is a gritty, honest, and in-your-face look at what happens to our young men and women that put their lives on the line in the middle of nowhere on a completely different continent than they have ever known not only on the battlefield but also the aftermath on how they deal with the families they have been without for way too long, the lives they left behind, and a system that is so overwhelmed and understaffed that they cannot get the help they need in a timely manner. Teller keeps his performance in the pocket as he should and lets his co-stars have their moments as well. Shumann is a man who suffers on his own not because of his pride but because of his love and concern for those around him to not have to carry the burdens he does, and Teller’s work with Haley Bennett as his wife, Saskia, is nothing short of pure and palpable. Koale also embodies his role well as a young man who believes that the Army “saved his life” while trying to fight off a level of PTSD that cannot simply be ignored. There is also a very impressive turn here by Amy Schumer (and yes, you read that right) as the widow of one of the soldiers in her unit who wants answers and cannot find them. It is nice to see her stretch her dramatic chops in a way that I have not seen before without me going “oh, it’s Amy Schumer… so, there’s THAT”. She truly is impressive here, and I hope to see her do more challenging roles down the road.
This is a film that I hope can been seen as a conversation starter on a subject that needs more light shown upon it because it does so in a very respectful way that is not too preachy or overly stated. It has a strong statement and is not afraid to let its message be put out there. “Thank You for Your Service” is a rare film that people from all walks of life and opinions can go to and see it for what it is and in doing so can hopefully open a dialog that needs to be continually had from multiple levels.