Directed by Mel Gibson
Written by Andrew Knight, Robert Schenkkan
Starring Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, Luke Bracey, Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington
Review by Jordan
For Eddie’s take click HERE
“While everybody is taking life, I’m going to be saving it, and that’s going to be my way to serve”
Hacksaw Ridge is less a contemplative exercise on the rights and consequences of the taking of human life, even in the repressive face of war, but more a character study of one man’s integrity and unyielding convictions. Desmond Doss (as powerfully portrayed by emerging talent Andrew Garfield) represents a firm ideal and belief, and the integral rights that ensure he’s able to keep to them. Conversely, the reactions of the equally brave soldiers, with whom he is initially ostracised, remain firmly forgivable before being commendable; each recruit fights out of a loyal sense of duty, leaving their beloved in trust they will meet again in a safer future.
Watching this I was reminded of a moment in Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line (1998), in which PFC. Doll considered, after killing a man for the first time, that he had performed the worst sin and nobody could touch him for it. War is an insurmountable force that has been shown to drive those who sway the outcome to the brink of their natural understanding, and Doss’ God-fearing upbringing, led by his Mother Bertha, prepared him to serve fully, with heart and indisputable courage, without losing sight of all else than that presented before his eyes.
A biography before being a war film, with attention distributed among all who are forced to form an opinion on the possibility of serving without a weapon, Hacksaw Ridge is purposefully driven by it’s director Mel Gibson (Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ), who magnifies the toll of loss (of former friends and a will also left behind) on families affected by war, and stages harrowing scenes of battle, where death is no preferrer of person and even the dead are consumed by the environment.
Highlighted by Doss’ relationship with nurse Dorothy Schutte (Teresa Palmer), there are people and moments initially beautiful, and others affecting for redemption and forgiveness. Distraught by the revelation his two sons have enlisted, veteran Tom Doss (Hugo Weaving), long lost to alcohol and violence, ultimately being the catalyst for Desmond to serve his country as an army medic is so inspiring it becomes the emotional centre in a tale not wanting for heart nor tragedy. Each death is as devastating as the one before it, and consequently every man saved from death is a motivator for the soldiers who face the same march through the fog and smoke the next day.
A moving tribute to the individuals who fight out of a care for others and prepare themselves for unimaginable horrors, that is intelligent enough not to villainize the sergeants and captains who have less singular motivators and draws unyielding drama from its focus on overcoming, Hacksaw Ridge is one of the most sympathetic war movies of the decade and another triumph for Mr. Gibson.
4.5 awkward movie-date conversations out of 5