THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE review by Mark Walters – Miles Teller shines in this PTSD story

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE review by Mark Walters – Miles Teller shines in this PTSD story

We’ve certainly seen our share of movies that deal with the military, and in recent years we’re seeing more and more films that involve post traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD)… the success of AMERICAN SNIPER showed that moviegoing audiences are ready to see more productions like this. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE not only deals with PTSD, it shows just how difficult it is for these soldiers when trying to re-acclimate to civilian life, and the struggles they go through when looking for government support.

The film opens in the middle of a battle scene in Iraq, with Adam Schumann (Miles Teller) and his troop ascending a tower in the middle a city block that’s all too quiet. When fellow soldier Michael Emory (Scott Haze) is badly shot in the head, though still alive, Schumann carries him downstairs to safety, but drops him just before they reach the tower entrance. This singular moment will have a lasting impression on Adam, long after he returns home. As these soldiers return to their families, most are greeted by wives and families, and in some cases children they’ve not yet met. Adam’s wife Saskia (Haley Bennett) does what she can to make her husband feel comfortable, but she knows he’s not the same man as when he left. His friend Solo (Beulah Koale) returns to his girlfriend Alea (Keisha Castle-Hughes), who wants to make a baby, but doesn’t realize Solo is having major psychological issues he’s keeping to himself. Another one of their friends (played brilliantly by Joe Cole) comes home to a cleaned out apartment and a girlfriend who won’t answer his calls. As the story progresses, we see how these men deal with their return to civilian life, and how the battlefield in their own mind can be scarier than anything they’ve experienced in uniform.

This is one of those films that is equal parts engaging and frustrating, the latter coming from the sad reality of what these brave folks have to deal with when coming home. Their friends and loved ones try desperately to help them and understand what they’re thinking or feeling, but there’s just no way they can process it much less make things better. War changes people, and sometimes leaves them shattered and mentally broken. But what’s worse is how the very government services that are supposed to assist them in getting better are backed up in paperwork and formalities. These people need assistance, but are constantly told to wait, which is insulting and aggravating considering how brave and selfless they’ve been while protecting our country. What we get here is a small taste of what it must be like for the average soldier to seek help and not get it because of delays and processing time, and how that waiting can make them even worse.

Miles Teller is excellent as Adam, the strong and silent type who cares greatly for his friends, but also knows he has his own problems. The guilt of dropping a man who was almost dead weighs on him and tortures his psyche, despite his act in that moment being brave and admirable. This is a role that shows off just how good Teller can be, and solidifies his “everyman” leading man quality. With performances like this and WHIPLASH, and let’s not forget BLEED FOR THIS, he is fast becoming a name to watch on the big screen, and this film should get folks talking. Beulah Koale is excellent as Adam’s tortured friend Solo, and delivers a scene-stealing performance that truly wowed me. He’s a fresh face playing a role other filmmakers might have farmed out to a more well-known name, but truly shines and makes the most of this dramatic opportunity. Haley Bennett is also great as Adam’s sympathetic wife who wants the best for her man, but also realizes she’s not properly equipped to help him. I also want to mention Scott Haze, who only has only major scene in the film, but really knocks it out of the park playing the injured soldier Adam rescued, now living a rather challenging life. Haze is another face to watch for, as he continually pops up in small roles, but always makes a big impression. One of the stranger casting choices is Amy Schumer as a widowed friend of the Schumanns. It’s a dramatic and somber performance, but inevitably a bit distracting considering the expectations from the comedic actress. It’s not that she’s bad in the role, but I heard a lot of mumbling among the audience whenever she was on screen, which shows how distracting her inclusion here really was.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE may have select scenes in the battlefield, but it’s really not a “war” movie, rather a character study of the brave souls who fight for our freedoms and the mental anguish they must deal with on their return. It’s also one of the better films of the year. This is the directorial debut of Jason Hall, who wrote the screenplay for AMERICAN SNIPER, and he proves here that he’s just as competent behind the camera as he is with his writing prowess. It’s not a flashy production or over-dramatic, rather a realistic and gritty slice of military life, and a rather important story for the times we’re currently living in. And in case you’re wondering, this movie is based on real people. Look up Adam Schumann and read his story, before or after you see the film.

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About the Author

Born and raised in Dallas, Mark has been a movie critic since 1994, with reviews featured in print, radio and National TV. In 2001 he started the Entertainment section of the Herorealm website, where he contributed film reviews and celebrity interviews until 2004. After three years of service there, he started Bigfanboy.com, which has become one of the Dallas film community’s leading information websites. Bigfanboy hosts several movie screenings in the Texas area, and works closely with film and TV studios and promotional partners to host exciting events and contests. The site also features a variety of rare celebrity and filmmaker interviews, and Bigfanboy.com regularly covers the film festival circuit as well. In addition to Hollywood reporting, Mark has worked for many years as an advertising and sci-fi/comic book artist. Clients have included Lucasfilm Ltd., Topps Trading Cards, The Dallas Mavericks and The Dallas Stars. From 2002 until 2015 he managed the Dallas Comic Con, Sci-Fi Expo and Fan Days events in the DFW area. He currently catalogs rare comic books and movie memorabilia for Heritage Auctions, and runs the Dallas Comic Show conventions, but remains an avid moviegoer and cinema buff.