Taking Chance, directed by Ross Katz and adapted from the book by Lt. Col. Michael Strobl, is a 78-minute film made for HBO. The movie is based on the real-life experience of Lt. Col Strobl (Kevin Bacon) escorting the body of fallen Marine PFC Phelps Chance (LCpl posthumously) back to his hometown of Dubois, Wyoming.
Most people are likely to be unaware of all the honors and customs that are given to servicemen killed in action. Taking Chance is one of those rare movies that does not attempt to add anything whatsoever to the real story. There is no cheap emotions, no political statements, nothing at all but natural reaction to the facts. The movie is incredibly realistic in its portrayal of the entire process of returning the body of a fallen Marine or soldier back to his or her family and Katz did an excellent job of giving snapshots of every aspect of that process.
The film is wonderfully quiet and minimalist, leaving the simple but powerful happenstance to speak volume. Kevin Bacon is fittingly understated, realizing that he doesn’t need to “act”, only to feel and react. I also liked that he felt like he was not doing his job being an “office” Marine because that’s a very common feeling for Marines and other servicemen and women who are stationed stateside. Finally, have some tissues handy because no eyes will left dry by the end of this powerful and pitch-perfect movie.
Semper Fidelis LCpl Chance.
Notes: Lance Corporal Chance Phelps was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with a “V” for Valor for his heroic actions on April 9, 2004. Many of his comrades credit him with saving their lives that day.
Related Link: If you would like to read more about the process of escorting a fallen Marine back to his family, I strongly recommend you to read this incredibly moving article from the Denver Rocky Mountains News website.