FILM SCORE: ⭐⭐⭐1/2
Released by Summit Entertainment
Release Date: November 4th, 2016
Starring: Andrew Garfield. Sam Worthington, and Vince Vaughn
Written by Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight
Directed by Mel Gibson
Rated R (intense prolonged realistically graphic sequences of war violence including grisly bloody images)
Faith plays a huge part in Hacksaw Ridge. Everyone knows about Mel Gibson and his faith. If you don’t then you have been living under a rock for a long time now.
Hacksaw Ridge tells the story of Desmond Doss, a young man who believes in God with all his heart, but also believes that he needs to enter the service during World War II because he needs to do his part. He doesn’t believe in guns, so he enlists as a medic after being promised that he will never have to touch a gun. He finds out the hard way that no one cares about his beliefs. He is ordered to pick up a gun because his commanding officers by into the notion that if Doss does not have a gun, then he can not protect his fellow soldiers.
The first half of the film is the story of Doss at home and at the army base. His home life is not the greatest. His father fought in World War I and has become a drunk because he blames himself for the deaths of his friends. The father also beats Doss, his brother, and his mother. It was this that I found to be the most clichéd part of the film. The actors involved (Hugo Weaving and Rachel Griffiths) are all very good given the material that they have to work with. Director Mel Gibson also keeps the scenes lively by keep the scenes to a bare minimum. He doesn’t focus too much on these scenes because he knows that we have seen them in a hundred other films.
With this being a war film, and a war film that comes from Mel Gibson, the man who got people into the theater to watch Jesus be the subject of the most successful “torture porn” film of all time, we should know that this film is going to be violent. Gibson does not let us down in that regard. This film is very violent. Looking at the reason the film was given an R rating, it says that it is rated R for “intense prolonged realistically graphic sequences of war violence including grisly bloody images”.
Notice that there is no mention of the language or nudity in the film. They don’t really need to mention these other things because we should know what we are getting into when we look at the reason for the rating, but I found it amusing nonetheless.
The acting here is mostly on the positive side. Andrew Garfield gives a wonderful performance as Doss. He really understands the character and his reasoning behind what he is doing. The scenes where Doss goes back and keeps getting more and more men who were wounded and left on Hacksaw Ridge is a display of some many emotions and his body movements as he tries to stay out of the sight of the enemy I think owe a tad bit to Spider-man.
Hugo Weaving, on the other hand, is given the role of the father. From the first time we see him, as he drinks at a cemetery and pours some of his hooch out for his fallen brothers, we barely ever see him not drunk. He does have a really nice scene at his son’s court-martial, but his role is mostly getting drunk and hitting his family. I also like when Weaving shows up in a film, but his talents are wasted here.
Hacksaw Ridge is a really good film and a return to form for Gibson. The film is beautiful to look at and the stunt work is impressive. I felt a little bit let down by the overuse of CGI and the clichés of Doss’ family. The acting is really good and the story is incredible. To know that this actually happened, with Doss saving 75 soldiers on his own, is mind-blowing. I think that Hacksaw Ridge will become a classic war film over time. Right now it is a really good film that could have been great.