Showing photos and video of U.S. casualties coming home is no way to sell a war, particularly an unpopular one like Iraq. But it is the best way to market a TV movie about a war, apparently, as a flag-draped coffin appeared in nearly every preview scene of Taking Chance, an HBO film starring Kevin Bacon as an officer escorting a fallen Marine back to his hometown. The movie's premiere last Saturday night drew 2 million viewers, becoming the highest-rated original movie to debut on HBO in five years. That's better than the much-hyped John Adams, which starred a couple of Oscar winners. Based on a true story, Taking Chance has broken through where many Iraq and Afghanistan-war-themed moves and TV shows before it have failed. In the Valley of Elah, Redacted, Lions for Lambs, Over There and Generation Kill all struggled to find an audience, and even Paramount and MTV Films' emphasis on hot young actors couldn't salvage Stop-Loss.
Next up in the risky war genre is The Hurt Locker, from action-movie maven Kathryn Bigelow, which is being positioned as a straight-up thriller about a bomb squad. According to advance publicity, it just happens to be set in Baghdad.
—Posted by T.L. Stanley