Taking Chance gives audiences another perspective into the Iraq war. Lt. Colonel Michael Strobl (Kevin Bacon) volunteers to escort the remains of a recently deceased Lance Corporal Chance Phelps. During the trip across America’s heartland, Strobl gets to see how the Iraq war is implicating not just the families involved, but the nation as a whole. The film is also based on true events, which adds to the stories levity. The film manages to give alternative perspectives on the war and also manages to be objective at the same time.
There is one shot in particular that portrays a disconnect that exists between man and soldier. Strobl is at the airport just prior to leaving and the camera remains on him and his reflection for about fifteen seconds. Throughout the film, Strobl is wrestling with morality and this shot gives the audience an opportunity to see his emotional struggle with no dialogue. Kevin Bacon delivers a solid performance. In his latter years, Bacon has made some interesting role choices. He has also been quoted with saying “I do struggle with how much and in which way, as an artist or celebrity, that you voice your political views.” This quote is as conflicted with decision as his character is throughout the film. One could speculate that there is a part of himself that Bacon has put into this effort. From a film perspective, it is all melodrama. There is plenty of slow motion, score and emotion. The score is composed beautifully and compliments the shot selection of the director.
The film accomplishes what it sets out to do. It informs, relates and implicates its audience with the emotional significance of death. Bacon’s performance is memorable and the film defines itself with its perspective on the Iraq war.
Taking Chance is presented in 1:78:1. The film looks very clean. All of the colors are full and the darks are brilliant. The flesh tones are good and there are no issues with the transfer. The film was originally shown in HD on HBO so the picture is superb. No complaints at all.
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. As a melodrama, the sound and score need to act as another character in the film. There are numerous scenes in this film with a strong orchestral score and limited dialogue. The music throughout the film is powerful and adds to the film experience in a positive way. With each moment of reflection for Strobl, audiences are able to hear everything with great clarity. The sounds of dog tags rattling against one another and other ambience are not affected by the mix. Overall, it is a strong effort.
There are two featurettes, an assortment of interviews and a deleted scene bundled into these features. All of which are very powerful and profound to help paint the picture of this American hero.
Bearing Witness (22:11): A documentary providing a thorough biography of Chance Phelps’ family. It is a touching and emotional piece.
The Real Chance Phelps (6:00): A production video about Chance and provides more interviews with family, friends, cast and crew. More background information about Chance.
From Script to Screen (5:48): A shorter featurette about production. It has interviews with screenwriters, actors and the director. Kevin Bacon discusses why he decided to do this film.
I’ll Watch Over Him (1:48): A deleted scene. It is prefaced with a written statement from the director Ross Katz. A good scene for character development and examines a marine’s responsibility.
Taking Chance is an objective look at the implications the Iraq war caused on many American citizens. The film is anchored by a good performance by Kevin Bacon and educates its audience with the life of an American Hero. Overall, Taking Chance is a positive and encouraging experience.