Hacksaw Ridge (2016). Directed by Mel Gibson. Screenplay by Andrew Knight & Robert Schenkkan. Starring Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, & Vince Vaughn.
I just got through watching Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge, and I gotta say, it was one of the best films I’ve seen in a long while. It’s unabashedly pro-American and old fashioned, which is one of the main reasons it’s so great. Watching it, as an American, caused me to swell up with pride at the horrors our brave soldiers faced down during World War II. That’s not to say the movie washes over the brutal nature of war, in fact, it’s has one of the most (if not the most) gruesome battlefield sequences ever put on film. However, the main character himself (Andrew Garfield’s Desmond Doss) never fires a shot due to his religious convictions.
Oh, and did I mention it’s based off a true story?
The thing I keep coming back to is the way the film focuses on the eyes of the soldiers. Every key battlefield scene is punctuated by the eyes, the dark makeup causing them to standout. But even before the grime of war is covering the faces of the combatants, the film really centers on the eyes telling the tale.
Oh, the other thing I keep coming back to is how fine Teresa Palmer is, but that’s another story.
The central character, Desmond Doss, is unabashedly religious. In fact, the entire film could very much be considered a faith-based project, since it revolves around Mr. Doss’s mindset. I don’t think that should keep the nonreligious from enjoying it, though. I, myself, am not very religious, but I loved the movie from beginning to end. I can’t think of a misstep and it marks a great comeback for director Mel Gibson. It’s a pleasure to see him making big and important films once again. They only spent $40 million on production, plus an estimated $10-20 million on advertising. It’s made a tidy $163 million since its release, which means this was a great return on investment.
The entire supporting cast is great, but I have to put a special word in for Vince Vaughn. Great performance in a more serious role. Although, he still has plenty of laugh lines as the hard-ass Sergeant Howell
I am an unabashed lover of cinema. Some folks on Twitter repeatedly ask me why I support “Hollywood degeneracy.” Well, as I said, the main reason is because I love movies. I’m also able to separate the art from the artists, so someone’s political beliefs almost never cause me to reject good work when I see it. Plus, movies like Hacksaw Ridge make all the shit ones worthwhile.
And in times like these, when people are happy to dump on the United States and it’s history, films like this one are even more important. I can’t think of any reason not to give it the full 4 stars, except maybe the slow first act. So, I’ll give it 3 and 3/4ths.
Great movie and well worth anyone’s time. Bravo.
Star Rating (out of 4): * * * & 3/4ths