Thank You for Your Service

An anguished study on the true effects of war

Hollywood has done surprisingly well on the subject of war veterans, from 1946’s The Best Years of Our Lives – long before post-traumatic stress disorder was a typical diagnosis – to more recent films like The Hurt Locker and American Sniper.

Jason Hall, the screenwriter of that last movie, now makes a sincere, unshowy directorial debut with this, a mostly quiet drama that burrows deep under the psychological scars of a group of Iraq combat vets returned home with memories they can’t shake off. Once a confident sergeant, Adam Schumann (Miles Teller) still scans the gutters of his Missouri suburb’s roads for plastic bags that might be hiding bombs; Solo (Beulah Koale), has deeper anxieties that make him desperate to blot out his memories however he can.

The movie kicks off a little shapelessly, true to the drifting, detached nature of these men, then snaps to attention too quickly in a third-act criminal subplot. But these anguished performances go a long way, as does the film’s peripheral vision of a banal, depressed America that threatens to forget its warriors.

The bottom line
An anguished study on the true effects of war.


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