Sundance Review: Taking Chance

By Josh Tyler 2009-01-17 19:48:52discussion comments
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Viewers with ties to the military, or an obsession with the burial practices of the Marine Corps may find something interesting in Taking Chance, but for anyone else itís a tedious 85 minutes of Kevin Bacon saluting.

Bacon plays Lt. Colonel Michael Strobl, a Marine working a desk job as an analyst and carrying around a lot of unnecessary guilt. While his buddies fight it out in Iraq, he rides a cubicle crunching numbers for military commanders who wonít listen to him. At night he sits in bed combing through casualty records, until he stumbles on the name of a dead soldier from his home town of Clifton, Colorado. Though he doesnít know the deceased, Strobl volunteers for escort duty. Itís now his job to accompany the boyís body home, delivering his coffin and his personal effects to bereaved parents.

Along the way Taking Chance subjects us to every minute detail of the militaryís body dispensation traditions. Baconís job is, primarily, just to go wherever the body goes and salute it as itís loaded and unloaded. The film drags the coffinís journey from military post to funeral home out as long as possible, allowing Bacon more and more opportunity to salute, look deeply affected, and receive the extreme adulation of every person he encounters on his trip.

It doesnít take long for Taking Chance to cross the line from patriotic and affecting into cloying and desperate. This is a film frantic for tears and nationalistic fervor that, unfortunately, it just hasnít earned. Simply dragging a flag over a coffin and showing sad parents is not, in and of itself, enough to get your audience invested. Watching Taking Chance is like saying the pledge of allegiance at a ballpark and then being expected to hug your buddy and sob after ďjustice for allĒ. For most people, thatís just not going to happen.
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