Taking Chance Ross Katz

Taking Chance Ross Katz
Taking Chance isn't so much a movie as it is an underplayed and thoughtful tribute to the many young lives that have been cut short overseas in battle. As such, the narrative is deceptively simple, following Lt. Colonel Michael Strobl (Kevin Bacon) across the country to Wyoming as he escorts the body of Lance Corporal Chance Phelps to his family and resting place after his heroic death in Iraq. Initially giving little thought to the overall gravitas, understanding the tragedy but not the context, Strobl is surprised by how moved he is by the reactions and compassion of a nation mourning not only the loss of this particular young man but the loss of many, and an overall collective innocence. While a film of this nature — based on a true story and featuring supplements with family members and friends — could easily fall into the trap of saccharine hokum, Taking Chance shows remarkable restraint, never lingering on a feeling too long, or reaching for anything that isn't there. It still isn't what one would consider entertainment, or even really a film, feeling more like a professionally made A&E biography or After School Special, but it's smart and respectful of its subject. Never dipping into wartime didactics, the film proves accessible to an audience less accustomed to feeling empathy for the subject matter, given varying political beliefs and the broadened "human" scope. Included with the DVD is a half-hour supplement titled "Bearing Witness," which examines how the story and film came to be, featuring interviews with Phelps's family and friends, in addition to the real Lt. Col. Strobl. More sensitive viewers may find this challenging to get through, while the discerning audience will note its hagiographic nature. Also included are mini-supplements on "The Real Chance Phelps" and "From Script to Screen," which cover much of the same material, only with greater focus. Lastly, a deleted scene where Strobl hands over his duties to another marine is included. (Warner)