Back to back roles of playing servicemen of some kind, eh, Miles Teller?
Based on true events, it follows a group of men in the military who return home from Iraq and struggle with PTSD, readjusting to their home lives. It sounds pretty standard as this isn’t an idea that hasn’t been tackled before. Having said that, it’s probably going to be decently acted.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Miles Teller (ONLY THE BRAVE , DIVERGENT , and 21 & OVER ), Haley Bennett (RULES DON’T APPLY , THE EQUALIZER , and MUSIC AND LYRICS ), and Beulah Koale (6 episodes of TV show HAWAII FIVE-0 [2010 – ongoing]). In support, we have Amy Schumer (SNATCHED , TRAINWRECK , and SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD ), Brad Beyer (42 , THE GENERAL’S DAUGHTER , and TV show JERICHO [2006 – 2008]), Joe Cole (WOODSHOCK , GREEN ROOM , and SECRET IN THEIR EYES ), Keisha Castle-Hughes (STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH  and WHALE RIDER ), and Kerry Cahill (FREE STATE OF JONES , TERMINATOR: GENISYS , and SNITCH ).
Now for the crew. Writing and directing is Jason Hall, making his directorial debut as a director, but he’s previously written AMERICAN SNIPER (2014) and PARANOIA (2013). Composing the score is Thomas Newman, known for VICTORIA & ABDUL (2017), JARHEAD (2005), and PHENOMENON (1996). Finally, the cinematographer is Roman Vasyanov, known for THE WALL (2017), FURY (2014), and END OF WATCH (2012).
Overall, this is probably going to be pretty good, so I remain optimistic.
This is my honest opinion of: THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE
Set in 2008. Adam Schumann (Miles Teller), Solo (Beulah Koale), and Billy Waller (Joe Cole) are army veterans who just came back from Iraq. Adam pretends that he’s okay coming home to his wife Saskia (Haley Bennett), his daughter, and their infant son, but he’s struggling with what he’s experienced overseas. Solo’s girlfriend is pregnant with their first kid and he struggles with hallucinations and reverting back to his past drug addiction. Billy’s girlfriend took all their furniture, leaving him with nothing, and shoots himself in the head right in front of her at her work. Adam and Solo continue to seek help for their trauma, but things are never that easy, and their reactions aren’t always the best choices.
I think I’m still processing it for the most part. I think my true feelings about the film will be spewed out in the review as I write it. As it stands though, it’s a very interesting take on a topic that’s been done before and I learned a thing or two, which is probably one of the more important aspects this movie gets right: education for the uninformed.
So as per usual, Teller delivers a solid performance. He’s engaging, nuanced, delivers a likability to Adam Schumann, he’s pretty good. Adam comes home and at first, you think he’s adjusting well enough, doing the typical thing. Spending time with his family, going to the bar with his boys and blowing off steam, making laughable asses of themselves. But the more the movie unravels, you see that it’s all an act. He has suicidal thoughts, wishing he was dead, but you would never really get his feelings as you see him playing with his daughter. And if there’s anyone that delivers an equally solid performance is Koale for his role as Solo (apologies for not knowing the man’s full name). If Adam suffers from more subtle PTSD, then Solo suffers worse. Whereas Adam just has dreams reliving the worst of his experiences, Solo has hallucinations, mood swings, even violent outbursts. And because we learned that he was a former drug addict prior to his service in the military, it doesn’t become a shock when he starts to relapse. And it’s not as simple as just having that urge either. He tries seeking help, but it’s constantly not granted, so in spite of how heartbreaking it is, you get why.
That’s another thing that I really appreciated about this film. Very little is sugar-coated. This isn’t a story about soldiers coming home and denying that they’re traumatized with rage outbursts, screaming that they’re okay and they don’t need help until the very end of the movie. No, this is the story of soldiers who know they’re messed up in the head and actively seek and want help, especially after their friend and comrade, Billy, commits suicide. Thing is, the help is denied to them. Not because they system is being run by sick assholes who don’t give a shit about them, but rather this film acknowledges that the system is just overbooked. Thousands upon thousands of war veterans seek help every day from all over the country and the system just can’t help them all.
Oh, and bar none, even though she’s only in a support role, this is Schumer’s best performance in her entire career. How she got to be a part of this project, I’m positive I don’t know, but that she’s here and does a solid job is not an unwelcomed sight.
If I had a complaint about the film, and I genuinely do, it’s how Adam’s trauma is presented. We know half of it is because Michael Emory (Scott Haze) was shot in head, the bullet taking two inches off his brain, and as Adam tries to carry him down a flight of stairs, he accidentally drops him and nearly kills him. The other half is when James Doster (Brad Beyer) tells Adam to stay behind and he take his place on his rounds to Adam can talk to his wife, Doster is instead killed in action from an explosive and Solo unknowingly blamed Adam out loud to him. I Neither reason is bad or doesn’t make sense, but what doesn’t make sense is this: why are they particular shocks to us?
Here, let me explain. The opening sequence of the film is the aforementioned Adam accidentally dropping Emory. We largely assume for the entire story that this is the reason why he’s traumatized. But we don’t learn about the circumstances of Doster’s death and its effect on Adam until the end of the film. Why? I simply do not believe that the causes of PTSD should be treated like some big dramatic twist. Neither explanation is any more or less dramatic for Adam’s trauma, so why treat one reason that way over the other?
If I were to change anything, I would say that in order to maximize the shock or empathetic value of Adam’s trauma, either explain it by revealing both reasons in the beginning, or save them for the third act. If the movie wants us to understand what Adam is going through and why he’s reacting the way he does, then put all the cards on the table in the beginning and let the events unfold as they may. Or the movie can have the audience be like Saskia and keep us in the dark as to why he’s traumatized until later on for the big reveal, showing us the events themselves. As it stands, it feels odd and I didn’t agree with the choice.
Overall, this movie is good. It’s an eye-opener and even a little hard to sit through knowing certain facts about the realities of war vets with PTSD. But it’s effective and provides a level of understanding that many may not have. It’s a respectable film and it’s very much worth watching. I question the placement of certain events in the story, but I do recommend the film. It’s an important one, in my opinion.
My honest rating for THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE: it’s a must-see