Thursday, January 15, 2009
You might presume that yet another film about the war in Iraq couldn't possibly reveal anything new; and that, regardless, you can anticipate its message from what is almost always a cleanly defined ideological point of view: Left or Right, pro- or antiwar, pro-administration or opposed. But you would be wrong. Taking Chance is, without question, one of the most powerful and vital films ever made about Iraq—or, for that matter, the military—and yet its potency comes not from melodramatic or political statements but simply from its reality and execution.The true story of a Marine who volunteers to escort the remains of a 19-year-old killed in Iraq to his family in a small Wyoming town, the film is based on a journal by Lieutenant Colonel Michael Strobl. It is in every sense a personal narrative, beautifully presented by first-time filmmaker Ross Katz—who was heretofore an accomplished producer and now makes a remarkable debut as a director. Fueled by an outstanding performance by Kevin Bacon, Taking Chance is about respect, about death and sadness, about honor and the military fraternity, and about the American community during a time of tragedy. It is an extraordinary film from any perspective.