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.
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