Adam Schumann (Miles Teller) has put in his time in Iraq and is happy to return to his family. But his wife, Saskia (Haley Bennett), is worried that he hasn’t quite put his life as a soldier behind him. As it turns out, she’s onto something: Adam can’t forget an incident that, even in the chaos of war, stood out as singularly horrible.
On the plus side, he seems to have returned to America with no significant psychological damage. That can’t be said for Adam’s war buddy Solo (Beulah Koale), who’s eager to sign up for another tour but has been deemed unfit for duty. Adam’s not sure what he can do to help Solo, but he’s determined not to let him down.
Another comrade, Will (Joe Cole), is having an even harder time than Solo. The woman he thought he would spend his life with has abandoned him and taken their furniture with her. Alone and forlorn in an empty house, Will wonders how he can move forward — and more troublingly, whether making the effort is even worth it.
In a country they fought to protect, Adam, Solo and Will aren’t getting the respect that’s due them.
Based on the nonfiction book by David Finkel, “Thank You for Your Service” calls attention to the problems that soldiers have in re-adjusting to civilian life. Working from his own screenplay, director Jason Hall — who wrote “American Sniper” — delivers an understated drama that makes its points without preachiness. If the film doesn’t quite achieve greatness, it’s nonetheless heartfelt.
Teller turns in one of his best performances as the contemplative Adam, who’s haunted by the choices he made on the battlefield. And Koale brings a poignant vulnerability to Solo.
With the exception of the phenomenally popular “American Sniper,” recent films with war themes have tended to underperform at the box office. “Thank You for Your Service” deserves better than that.
What “Thank You for Your Service” • Three stars out of four • Run time 1:48 • Rating R • Content Violence, language, sexuality, drugs and nudity