Taking Chance

Subscribe to Kevin Bacon alerts

Facts and Figures

Run time: 77 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 21st February 2009

Production compaines: Motion Picture Corporation of America


Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 50%
Fresh: 3 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew


Producer: Lori Keith Douglas

Starring: Kevin Bacon as LtCol Mike Strobl, Tom Aldredge as Charlie Fitts, Nicholas Art as Nate Strobl, Blanche Baker as Chris Phelps, Guy Boyd as Gary Hargrove, Guy Boyd as Robert Orndoff, Gordon Clapp as Tom Garrett, Emily Wickersham as Kelley Phelps

Taking Chance Movie Review

Military reverence has long been one of the classic movie themes, to the point that it is now one of the most frequently mishandled subjects. It is difficult to make a soldier movie that avoids formulaic sentimentality and traditional heroism to the sound of a bugle call. Even more difficult is to make a military film that uncovers something most audiences have never seen, to open viewers up to the intimate unknown. Taking Chance successfully does both; it dissects minute military details that take place far away from the battlefield and exposes us to procedures that both fascinate and enlighten. It is quiet, engaging, and surprisingly affecting.

The film is unique in its keen attention to the minutiae of the U.S. military's body transfer process. Taking Chance is almost exclusively interested in the power of ambiguous observation. Sure, there is a story with a beginning, middle, and end, but narrative isn't necessarily the film's foremost preoccupation; this is a movie that thrives on intimate characterization and quiet scrutiny.

Taking Chance is based on true events as they were recorded in the journal of Lt. Col. Michael Strobl as he escorted the body of a young fallen soldier to his family's home in Wyoming. In the film, Kevin Bacon plays Strobl, a quiet, respectful, unassuming family man who feels as if he has never truly fulfilled his call of duty. After joining the Marines as a teenager and completing a brief tour of duty in Operation Desert Storm, Strobl settled down with his family and has been working at a desk as an analyst ever since. His decisions were purposeful -- "I got used to being with my wife and kids," he tells a veteran on his journey -- but have left him with the feeling that he never did enough for his country.

Strobl spends countless nights perusing Marine casualty lists, possibly worried that he will find a name to mourn. What he finds instead is the name of a fallen Private First Class whom he has never met, but who comes from Strobl's own hometown. Perhaps out of recognition, perhaps out of guilt, perhaps out of dutiful curiosity, Strobl volunteers to escort PFC Chance Phelps back home to his family. His journey unfolds in scenes of quiet power, from expected moments of sadness to unexpected bonds with fellow soldiers, and through Strobl's eyes we witness a unique and evocative human experience.

Taking Chance marks the screenwriting and directorial debut of Ross Katz, who has worked as a producer for most of the last decade. It is clear that he has wisely taken several cues from his most frequent collaborator, Sofia Coppola. His film is muted in its emotion and acute in its attention to small human details. Katz, like Coppola, is fascinated in the beauty and pain of the face -- he studies Strobl in nearly every shot, following him from subtle emotion to subtle emotion. The entire film is a study of details, from the cleaning and preparing of a deceased officer's body to the reverential customs of airport transportation to Strobl's unyielding commitment to assuring that he never, for any reason, lets his soldier out of his sight. Bacon is the perfect actor to fill this role -- his eyes convey pain and reflection on the level of the best actors working today, and in this role his delicate, ever-so-understated emotional journey is the film's most powerful element.

Death is one of the most fearful and intriguing aspects of humanity, but the oft-unseen details of what happens immediately after death occurs -- how the body is treated, how the caretakers deal with unenviable preparations -- is rarely observed with the sort of respect and intimacy as it is in this film. Taking Chance provides a refreshing new perspective on military films -- there are no violent battles, no patriotic speeches, no solemn overtures about heroism and sacrifice. We simply observe all of the rituals, some reverential, some cold and insensitive, that make up this process that goes on several times a day, but which Michael Strobl -- and many of us in the audience -- are only witnessing for the first time. This is a film about respect and dignity, both in death and in life. And we hope that we may be treated with the same level of careful attention.

Sober Bacon.


Subscribe to Kevin Bacon alerts


Taking Chance Rating

" Excellent "


More Kevin Bacon

Entourage Trailer

After making a name for themselves in Hollywood, Vincent Chase and his entourage of friends from Queens have finally made a movie. The only problem...

Bastille - Things We Lost In The Fire [Live] Video

Live on the Honda Stage at Music Midtown in Atlanta, Bastille perform 'Things We Lost In The Fire', the final single from their debut album...

Bastille - Oblivion [Live] Video

Bastille perform their single 'Oblivion' live on the Honda Stage at Music Midtown in Atlanta. The track followed Platinum hit 'Of The Night' and featured...

HAERTS - Interview Video

Brooklyn band Haerts released their self-titled debut album this year, and here they talk about how they first got into music, their lifelong friendship and...


Mark Ronson - Daffodils ft. Kevin Parker [Audio] Video

Mark Ronson will finally unveil his fourth album 'Uptown Special' on January 26th 2015 through his new label deal with Sony Music. He has teamed...

Meghan Trainor - Lips Are Movin [Live] Video

Meghan Trainor performs her latest single 'Lips Are Movin' at one of her favourite places in the world: an aquarium. The song features, alongside smash...

HAERTS - Be The One [Live] Video

Haerts perform an intimate live rendition of their song 'Be The One', taken from their self-titled debut album released in October 2014 through Columbia Records....

ScHoolboy Q - Hell Of A Night Video

ScHoolboy Q released his first number one with third album 'Oxymoron', and he now unveils the video to its latest single 'Hell Of A Night'...