“Thank You for Your Service”
Excellent (3.5 stars)
Rated R for sexuality, drug use, graphic violence, brief nudity and pervasive profanity
In English and Samoan with subtitles
Running time: 108 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures
In the spring of 2007, the Washington Post’s David Finkel accompanied a combat team of American infantrymen deployed to Baghdad at the start of the controversial surge ordered by President Bush. After being embedded for a year, the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter chronicled the intrepid GIs’ heroic efforts to bring stability to the region in a riveting best seller entitled “The Good Soldiers.”
In 2013, Finkel published “Thank You for Your Service,” an update about the same troops’ struggle to readjust to civilian life upon returning to the States. Now, that opus has been adapted to the big screen as a psychological drama telescoping tightly on the mental state of a few members of the battalion.
The movie marks the impressive directorial debut of Jason Hall, who’s previously best known for writing and appearing in American Sniper (2014). The picture stars Miles Teller as Adam Schumann, a former sergeant ostensibly suffering from PTSD.
As the film unfolds, we learn that he has remained close with surviving members of the tight-knit unit once under his command. Unfortunately, all of them have been left damaged, mentally and/or physically. Consequently, all of their relationships are in crisis, and none has managed to hold down a steady job.
Adam’s worried wife (Haley Bennett) starts pressuring him to get help because he not only dropped their newborn baby inexplicably, but he’s constantly looking for IEDs whenever they drive down the street, as if he’s still in Iraq. Trouble is, there’s a nine-month waiting list to see a shrink at the VA hospital, and he’s being discouraged from seeking treatment by a callous colonel (Jake Weber) suggesting that all he needs to do is toughen up a little.
Then, there’s Solo (Beulah Koale), a Samoan with amnesia whose fed up wife (Keisha Castle-Hughes) is thinking of leaving him, despite being pregnant. Another buddy, Will (Joe Cole), was dumped by his fiancee (Erin Darke) before he even arrived home. And so forth.
The plot soon thickens, with things getting worse before they get better. But at least this loyal band of brothers can count on each other, if not the VA or their loved ones for support. A heartbreaking tale that’s difficult to swallow since its based purely on the hard, cold truth.
A sobering account of our wounded warriors’ tragic misfortunes.