‘Hacksaw Ridge’ Desmond Doss biopic is another great war film for this era
In the same vein as Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers, the horrors of World War II come to the big screen in a beautiful manner with Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge.
By beautiful I mean the ferocity, gross brutality and disregard for humanity are so clear that the audience will struggle to forget the horrors witnessed onscreen.
Centering on the life of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), a small town boy from a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic father (Hugo Weaving), who wants to serve his country despite his belief in the commandment: Thou shalt not kill.
The first half of the film is spent on Doss’s budding relationship with a nurse played by Teresa Palmer and Doss’s battle to survive basic training since he won’t even touch a rifle. Once on the battlefield, Doss struggles to gain respect from his brothers-in-arms as a media.
During the Battle of Okinawa, Doss’s unit is tasked with climbing Maeda Escarpment (“Hacksaw Ridge”) and Desmond saves several lives, even men with life-threatening injuries. Over night the bonding between Smitty (Luke Bracey) serves as the prelude to an amazing battle and Desmond’s heroics.
While Gibson skips some elements of history, presenting the events in a very short timeline, but were over weeks in real life, the conflict is breathtaking. There are a ton of great performances: Sam Worthington (Avatar, Terminator: Salvation, Clash of the Titans); Vince Vaughn (Delivery Man, The Dilemma, Fred Claus, Swingers) and Richard Roxburgh (Dracula in Van Helsing, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen).
Doss was a very religious man and the story is truly inspiring without ever being heavy-handed. Gibson earned his Best Director nomination and the film could earn a trophy in one of the sound or editing categories.
This is one of the most unforgettable war movies in years in an era of great war films (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty, American Sniper) and the best WWII film since Private Ryan.
Garfield stands no chance of winning the Oscar for Best Actor, but it was great to see the nod. Both Weaving and Palmer deserve their recognition for their performances.
Hacksaw Ridge receives 5 stars out of 5 stars