The cry of the new Iraq war movie: 'I'm only human after all!'

Thank You For Your Service (Universal Pictures)


Score: A

Rated R -- 108 minutes


Your reaction and response to THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE will depend on which decade you were born in. Your connection to U.S. soldiers returning home from battle will depend upon which war you most identify with. Finally, your political "ilk" may just be the critical filter that determines whether or not you agree with my scoring this film with an "A". You may be surprised to find that in this film, there is absolutely no political agenda.

In all honesty, I put away all of my film critic criteria and allowed myself to disappear into what is a true story for tens of thousands of American men and women who have played soldier. Every one of them is a hero. This is not an easy movie to watch. Not because of any bloody war scenes. They are few and far between. It is uncomfortable watching the pain of neglect and the guilt that we feel for these men and women. By the time the closing credits began to roll, I was emotionally drained. Bruce Springsteen's exquisite new song "Freedom Cadence" made me cry. (Listen to the lyrics. Read the remarkable story below this review.)

The criticism that I see most Veterans (and some film critics) complain about is that the movie does not go deep enough nor far enough to portray the real disaster that is our Veteran Affairs Medical Centers. The end result that we see every day is the horrendous figures of our Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. They continue to commit suicide each and every day. It is a nightmare that we finally have to confront as a nation.

Jason Hall, who wrote the screenplay for AMERICAN SNIPER (2015), makes his directorial debut. He also wrote this screenplay. Hall has a great future ahead of himself. The story is adapted from David Finkel's superb 2013 book.

With this emotional film, I finally have my second nominee for Best Actor of the Year. Joining Andy Serkis (Caesar in War of the Planet of the Apes) is Miles Teller, who plays Adam Schumann, the central protagonist in this true story. His nuanced and haunting performance alone is worth the price of admission.

The other two major protagonist soldier roles are played by Joe Cole (as Will Waller) and Beulah Koale (as American Samoan Tausolo Aiete). The three together are a true band of brothers. Koale just may hear his name being read when the Best Supporting Actor nominees are announced. The outstanding ensemble cast also includes Haley Bennett, Amy Schumer, Scott Haze, and James Doster.

"Thank you for your service." So easy to say. But, when we say it, do we truly understand the meaning behind the words? Do we truly want to know about the ongoing nightmares our returning soldiers face while adapting back to civilian life? As Americans, why do we continue to allow the Veteran Affairs bureaucracy? Think about that the next time you say, 'THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!'

(This review is dedicated to Steve Cooper from Phoenix, Arizona.)


FREEDOM CADENCE plays over the closing credits. According to, "the track is based on the soldiers' marching cadence known as Freedom." According to USA Today, "Adam Schumann (the real-life Iraq War veteran whom the story is based on) had a cadence that they sang in boot camp."

Jon Kilik, the film's producer, had Schumann record him singing it on his cell phone. Kilik then passed it on to Bruce Springsteen and the rest is history.

USA Today (in their recent article) wrote that "Springsteen watched the new film twice, loved it and then said, 'Send me the recording, come back in a month, and bring the kid.' So Adam went up there with Jon and recorded the song with him!"

Springsteen sings and plays harmonium and banjo while Ron Aniello is in charge of drum loops and electric keyboards on the track. Aniello, Kilik, Schumann, and Springsteen are all on the background vocals.