Thank You For Your Service wants to convey a message while presenting a story, but unfortunately, the story it delivers is lackluster.
|Doster’s Wife||Amy Schumer|
Trigger Warning(s): Suicide
What is focused on in Thank You For Your Service is PTSD. After watching comrades get shot, blown up, or burned to death, returning to civilian life is hard for our leads Adam, William, and Solo. For William, the issue is having PTSD and returning to virtually no one. The house is empty, your fiancee left you, and that was the person you was living for. For Solo, it is being out of the element which made you feel useful, which became your new normal, and sort of like an addict, the withdraw is messing with him. Then there is Adam.
With Adam, so comes the regret. You led a squad and because of your decision, someone got hurt and another person died. Yet, here you are alive, with a beautiful wife and healthy kids. Meanwhile, your friend’s widow is trying to deal with life and you just want to avoid all your mistakes. Yet, they haunt you.
And while the movie focuses on the PTSD these men are going through, it also touches on how post-army life is damn near as difficult as being shot at. It is just now you don’t have a guaranteed support team, medical attention, and the checks become few and far between.
Other Noteworthy Facts & Moments
- The location of the VA in this movie is the same site in which Hawkins Laboratory is in Stranger Things.
From Miles Teller to even Amy Schumer, I cannot say there is one bad performance here. For actor truly displays the different aspects of either being a veteran or their spouse. For Schumer, it is being the widow with kids. The one who wants answers for while it won’t change anything, it will give you some peace. For whether it is knowing they died for someone else, knowing you can blame someone rather than them, or maybe even blame the equipment, that is something. That gives some form of closure.
On the flip side, you got Solo who is beyond just having depression but has memory issues and PTSD which is leaning toward violent tendencies. Something another character, Emory, notes he has experience with. In fact, he nearly killed his ex-wife, while having sex, because he was triggered during sex and nearly choked her to death. With Solo, his trigger was playing a violent video game and smelling burning meat. Something which reminded him of when Doster burnt to death – which he blames Adam for. A death which, alongside dropping Emory, is one of the focal points of Adam’s story. All of which won’t push you to tears, but will leave you recognizing the talent before you.
You know, it is a rare thing when the performances are good, the dialog is okay, but the story is trash. Let me explain: the issue with Thank You For Your Service is it wants to do as The Carmichael Show did. It doesn’t want to dig deep into any one particular problem veterans deal with, be it the VA, gaining employment, or what have you. Instead, it touches on each and every one of them and leaves it to you to find out more. As if the performances alone should be a big enough call to action that it’ll inspire you to do something.
The thing is though, whether the film is showing the aforementioned or how important emotional support is, you don’t get that sense of realness as we got out of One Day at a Time, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, or Sand Castle. In a way, to avoid being offensive, there isn’t a focus on Americans being the terrorist in Iraq. There isn’t anything about politics or how the government sends these boys to war and leaves them hanging once they get out. What we get out of Thank You For Your Service is a tightrope motion picture. It avoids being political while dealing with something which is a major political topic. It avoids pointing fingers or placing blame yet the way it brings up what veterans need, from services to understanding, it is like it wants you to be more than simply entertained.
Thus making it so you get these performances which ultimately feel like they are on chains. All so those who dug American Sniper and its pro-America stance don’t get alienated by anti-military talk. As well as those who hone in on war films and dissect them don’t have much to say either. Besides the lack of effort to take a side and show why being neutral leads to things seeming bland.
On The Fence
Lack of Significant Backstory
Piggybacking off of the neutral comment, one thing which must be noted is we don’t get too familiar with any of the characters. It’s noted they all pretty much went into the army since nothing was really happening back home, besides trouble, but that’s it. We don’t learn how everyone met their significant other, don’t see them interact with their parents, friends from before they went on a tour, or present any sense of what formerly was normal to them. It is almost like there was a checklist in place, things that had to be talked about, and they wanted these characters to be as generalized as possible so the actors were given just enough to emote properly.
Overall: Mixed (Divisive)
While you have to applaud any movie which doesn’t seek to glorify being a soldier and perhaps present people unpoliticized, that is sort of what dooms Thank You For Your Service. In the pursuit of mass appeal, it loses any sort of edge it could have. In the pursuit of showing so many aspects of being a veteran or a family member of a veteran, it not only feels rushed but like it is grazing over issues. All the while heavily relying on these actors to maybe inspire you to do or say something.
Making it a shame that for those like Schumer, who truly does impress in this movie, you forget what they brought to the film because the story doesn’t wish to pick a topic or stance. Much less have characters with strong, and possibly alienating, opinions. Hence the mixed label. For while the performances are noteworthy, the film largely seems to be working off a check list as it sprouts facts about how many veterans die a day, likely noting real VA wait times, and showing the frustration which comes with being a veteran. All the while, these actors are giving it all but are held on such a tight leash that while the emotions can be seen they can’t be felt for damn near every character seems neutered in a way for the sake of market appeal.