The most recent film I had the pleasure of viewing was Hacksaw Ridge, which was directed by Hollywood actor Mel Gibson. A man who was forced to take a long break from directing due to multiple controversies he was involved in. Gibson has finally returned from the shadows with a film that is sure to put him back on top.
Hacksaw Ridge tells the unique story of Desmond T. Doss (played by Andrew Garfield), who won the Congressional Medal of Honor during his service in WWII in the Pacific Theater. In his service, Doss was a pacifist and refused to pick up a gun due to his Christian religious convictions. Instead, Doss wanted to be a medic and save as many lives as he could. At the Battle of Okinawa, Desmond T. Doss ended up saving the lives of over seventy men.
We the audience get to see a brief glimpse into Doss’s life leading up to the war. We see Doss’s family relationships, him falling in love, and the constant pressures from fellow soldiers and his drill Sargeant (played by Vince Vaughn) while in basic training.
Hacksaw Ridge is a war movie told through a somewhat predictable and standard plot. There were plenty of scenes that I could accurately guess what would happen next in the sequence of events. Despite this, Hacksaw Ridge is truley an amazing film. Every problem and nitpick of the film can easily be forgiven for just how great it is.
I was completely stunned at just how moving and how beautiful this film was. Everything from the camera work, the cinematography, and the acting was spot on and could not have been any better. Hacksaw Ridge is definitely comparable in magnitude and greatness to Mel Gibson’s other masterpiece work, Braveheart. Which I think really says a lot about Gibson’s talent as a director.
The soft spoken Southern boy that Andrew Garfield encapsulates in this film is great. He really becomes the role of Desmond in Hacksaw Ridge. The religious convictions and unconditional love that Desmond felt is made known from the convincing acting job that Garfield does. I had faith from the previews that he would do great acting in this, and I was not wrong.
Just the right amount of humor was placed in just the right spots. The film knows exactly when to make us sad, make us laugh, and make us smile. Especially when it comes to the relationship Desmond builds with his love interest Dorothy (Teresa Schutte). Garfield and Schutte had some great on screen chemistry and really had me invested in their relationship. I was more interested in their relationship after ten minutes on screen than I am with other film couples after the entire movie.
Every scene in this film had a point and a motive. As a viewer I did not have to sit and scratch my head for a single scene. I did not have to ask myself, “Why was this scene here?” or “Why include this?”. Nothing was questionable.
The second half of Hacksaw Ridge feels like a completely different film than the first. It kind of caught me off guard, in a good way. The film goes from being light hearted in the beginning to intense battle sequences full of grisly death towards the end. It is very effective, almost like the audience gets sucked into the battle right along with Desmond.
Hacksaw Ridge is a great return to directing for Mel Gibson. It represents everything that a war movie should and can be. Experiencing Hacksaw Ridge was probably the most moving film I have seen this year, as well as one of the best. I hope Gibson will continue to make quality films just like this in the future.