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.