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Taking Chance

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Taking Chance

Based on the true experiences of Lt. Colonel Michael Strobl, who wrote eloquently of them in a widely circulated 2004 article, Taking Chance is a profoundly emotional look at the military rituals taken to honor its war dead, as represented by a fallen Marine killed in Iraq, Lance Corporal Chance Phelps. Working as a strategic analyst at Marine Corps Base Quantico in VA, Lt. Col. Strobl (Kevin Bacon) learns that Phelps had once lived in his hometown, and volunteers to escort the body to its final resting place in Wyoming. As Strobl journeys across America, he discovers the great diligence and dignity in how the military, and all those involved with preparing and transporting the body, handle their duties. Equally important, he encounters hundreds of people affected by Chances death, a vast majority of whom never knew him. This collective grieving eventually causes Lt. Col. Strobl, a veteran of Desert Storm now assigned to office duty, to probe his own guilt about not re-deploying to Iraq for the current conflict. Arriving in Wyoming, Lt. Col. Strobl completes his catharsis when he encounters Chances gracious family and friends, and discovers an extraordinary outpouring of community support.

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Amazon.com

The made-for-HBO Taking Chance is based on perhaps the single most moving artifact to come out of the Second Gulf War, Lt. Col. Mike Strobl's first-person narrative of his voluntary mission escorting the body of a fellow Marine killed in Iraq. Strobl (played in the film by Kevin Bacon) hadn't known Lance Cpl. Chance Phelps but, noticing they'd been born in the same western town, he requested temporary leave from his duties as a manpower-deployment analyst at Quantico in order to accompany the 20-year-old's body home. Home, as it turned out, was no longer their shared birthplace in Colorado but the high-country Wyoming town of Dubois. The journey would take Strobl deep into the heart of his nation, and his own heart as well. There's no overstating the power and beauty of what he encountered: one instance after another of not just military personnel but airline employees, passengers, and bystanders doing honor--mostly wordlessly--to Chance's coffin and his escort as they passed by. First-time director Ross Katz deserves credit for declining to inflate any of these moments or underscore their meaning with grandiloquent speechifying, and Bacon--an actor who couldn't hit a false note if his life depended on it--is true to the Desert Storm veteran's self-discipline and emotional discretion. The picture's decency is unimpeachable, and Strobl's story, transcending pro-war and anti-war politics, is itself an act of healing. What's missing is the seasoned hand of a great director (Ang Lee, say) to invest it with the rhythm and movement of a fully achieved feature film. Still, this is a journey you'll feel enriched by sharing. --Richard T. Jameson

On the DVD
Several somewhat overlapping short videos offer testimony to Chance Phelps's fun-loving spirit, heroic death, and spiritual legacy by his family, friends, and fellow Marines. They're good people. There's also a brief deleted scene--actually, portion of a scene--and some not particularly illuminating commentary on the making of the film. --Richard T. Jameson


Special Features

  • Bearing Witness: A featurette that includes interviews with Chance Phelps' friends and family as well as a section on the real Lt. Col. Michael Strobl
  • The Real Chance Phelps: Interviews, home movies, and personal photos help to paint a more vivid picture of this hero
  • From Script to Screen: A featurette on how Taking Chance was made, from concept through production
  • Deleted Scene: I'll Watch Over Him

Product Details

  • Actors: Kevin Bacon
  • Writers: Michael Strobl
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Closed-captioned, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: May 12, 2009
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,220 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001TOD6N4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,920 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Taking Chance" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

303 of 305 people found the following review helpful By Donald M. Bishop on February 26, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I viewed this film at a pre-screening, and I left the theater deeply moved. It's a simple story made into a heartfelt film -- Marine Lieutenant Colonel Michael Strobl (perfectly played by Kevin Bacon) accompanies the remains of Private First Class Chance Phelps from the mortuary at Dover AFB in Delaware to his home in Wyoming.

The Marine's death in Iraq occurs in the tense first minute of the film, with viewers only hearing the radio chatter and the explosion on a black screen. The screen comes to light with PFC Phelps' remains being sent to the U.S. The care of the remains and the personal effects makes visible and gives dignity to the anonymous work at Dover AFB.

The story takes the viewer into some seldom-seen corners of America -- from airport cargo facilities to the mountain highways of Wyoming -- and shows everywhere the reverence for the fallen. When the escort gives Phelps' watch, dog tags, and wooden cross to his parents, eight days after his death, even men will feel the tears coming. Finally, as LtCol Strobl (who had not yet been to Operation Iraqi Freedom when he accompanied Phelps' remains home) thinks over the experience, there's a meditation on where duty lies for a Marine Corps officer.

Director Ross Katz, Kevin Bacon, and HBO have given us a profound film that grants us a rare look not at America's prosperity, or freedoms, or politics -- but rather America's soul.

-30-
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188 of 190 people found the following review helpful By Robin Benson on March 1, 2009
Format: DVD
A deeply moving story and another plus for HBO. To my mind you just don't see too many movies that have this kind of honesty. One that comes to mind was The Straight Story. Taking Chance, though, is a completely different theme dealing with death, respect, honor, patriotism, family and love. Fortunately all of this is handled in a straightforward no-nonsense way and thank goodness it was. Hollywood really doesn't have too much of a reputation for presenting a simple truth without twisting it into something else.

The story unfolds very much like a documentary I thought. Kevin Bacon plays Lt. Col. Michael Strobl as the military escort taking the body of a dead soldier home to be buried. His performance was just right as was everyone else because the story was greater than all the parts combined. Particularly rewarding to watch, while the coffin, covered by the flag, was at airports or on the highway, was the way ordinary people took it upon themselves to pay their respects to someone they didn't know but who had died for his country: for them.

I don't know if this kind of movie is awards material. I think the story, in its simplicity and honesty, puts it way above the hype, razzle-dazzle and celebrity PR nonsense that surround awards. It's just too good to be commercialized in that way. It would be wonderful if its stature was achieved by word-of-mouth alone.

See it and be moved!
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118 of 120 people found the following review helpful By J. Young on February 24, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I'm a Marine Mom and I found this movie very moving. It was well made and Kevin Bacon did an excellent job portraying his character. I think it showed the honor our fallen hero's receive and deserve.
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78 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Lubin on March 2, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
As I sat and watched as my Marine son did 2 tours in Iraq in 2003 - 2005, I wondered about our many KIA's coming home...how would they be treated? Did other Americans even care ? Now everyone knows the sacrifices these young Marines made, and everyone knows how Marines take care of their own. More important, we know that these young men will not be forgotten. Well done, Mr. Bacon, and thank you for sharing the story, LtCol Strobl.
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65 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Allen Foster on February 28, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This movie tugs at your heart strings. It shows what happens to our fallen heros and how they make it back home to be laid to rest. Kevin Bacon plays a brillant part as a Marine Lt Col who volunteers to escort the remains of a young Marine from Dover AFB to his final resting place in MT. Mr Bacon shows definitely that he can act. You feel his dedication to the Core, his respect for the young Marine and the Marine's family, and the emotion packed feeling that one gets as he briefly encounters people along the way. A young Kevin Bacon will always be remembered for his role in FootLoose. He'll never shake that. But an older Kevin Bacon will always be remembered as the Marine Lt Col, Escort, in Taking Chance. This movie was perfectly cast and well directed. And of course, comes from Lt Col Michael R. Strobl's moving journal Taking Chance.
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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful By J. Donley on February 26, 2009
Format: DVD
This movie is unlike any other military movie you'll ever see, and the fact that it's based on a true story makes it even more touching. You'll watch the entire movie through patriotic tears!!! Every American should see this movie!!
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Morgan on February 27, 2009
Format: DVD
this movie is recommended for all. Everytime the LTC gave a silent salute, i tear came to my eye. This movie should def be on your list to buy. it gives an accurate portrayal.
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53 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Diane on February 24, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Every American should see this movie out of respect for our military and civilians who have fallen to protect us. EXCELLENT movie!
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