Thank You for Your Service

Overflowing good intentions give a solid boost to the uneven Thank You for Your Service, which offers a compassionate salute to our service members who struggle to integrate back into civilian life after returning from active duty.

The film offers an intimate glimpse into one of the hidden horrors of war — how post-traumatic stress disorder irrevocably and subconsciously changes people. And even if the execution fails to match the effort, at least it confronts a worthwhile subject with heartfelt sincerity.

The film follows Adam (Miles Teller) and other 2-16 Infantry soldiers coming home to Kansas after a harrowing tour of duty along the front lines in Iraq, where a member of his battalion died on Adam’s shoulders, leaving him racked with lingering guilt and resentment.

Adam’s wife (Haley Bennett) tries to understand why he seems so withdrawn and unable to share his pain with her and their two children before her patience wears thin. The situation is worse for Will (Joe Cole), whose wife has already left the apartment empty before he gets there. And Adam’s closest confidant, Solo (Beulah Koale), is suffering from a brain injury that strains his relationship with his pregnant wife (Keisha Castle-Hughes) to the point of physical violence.

The directorial debut of screenwriter Jason Hall (American Sniper) doesn’t provide much broad-based insight that most folks won’t already know with regard to the proliferation of PTSD. Yet it reflects solid research into the specifics of the true-life source material, scrutinizing the stigma involved with PTSD and other mental disorders, and the limited treatment options and VA red tape that only exacerbate the problem.

Teller’s performance generates sympathy by conveying Adam’s inner turmoil, moreso through facial expressions and body language than because of the melodramatic contrivances. Amy Schumer is effective in a change-of-pace extended cameo as a grieving widow.

First and foremost, Thank You for Your Service is a passionate call to action, for better and worse. As a tribute to courage and sacrifice, the film mixes moments that are alternately powerful and heavy-handed, aggressively tugging at the heartstrings and the guilty conscience of moviegoers.

Ultimately, Hall’s script would be more persuasive with a subtler touch, which could retain its raw authenticity while deepening the valuable underlying message.


Rated R, 109 minutes.