“I don’t know how I’m going to live with myself if I don’t stay true to what I believe”
Mel Gibson’s skills as film director demonstrate a strong connection with humanity’s depths and an unflinching attention to detail. Sadly, personal controversies have kept his talent mostly shelved during the last decade. The stellar 2016 WWII biopic ‘Hacksaw Ridge‘ attempts to rectify that.
Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) is an uncomplicated man living the simple life in Virginia when World War II heats up. As a patriot and resisting the wishes of his parents he enlists in the Army under one condition, he refuses to carry a rifle.
Doss has taken an oath to his god to never kill and despite unsympathetic Army “politics” he is permitted to serve as a medic in the Pacific campaign.
After a brutal battlefield intro we return to Doss’s pre-Army life, his family, and the obligatory basic-training “initiation”. These necessary standard movie fare flashbacks provide a reasonable, allbeit superficial, probing into Private Doss, the U.S.’s first (and only) conscientious objector Congressional Medal of Honor winner.
Once Doss is unceremoniously dropped into the Battle of Okinawa’s savage engagement known as “Hacksaw Ridge” this film’s full fury is finally unleashed. Easily the most immersive, visceral, and nail-biting depictions of modern warfare action ever put to film. Doss’s squad mates are blown-up and apart with total, reckless abandon.
The performances are uniformly well done. Andrew Garfield dominates with a convincing earnestness and strong real-to-life convictions. With special nods to Sam Worthington, Hugo Weaving, and Vince Vaughn in making grand impact with very little screen time.
Only a few CGI missteps, some needless melodrama, and the use of (un)ironic war film cliches mare the exquisite production. 2016’s ‘Hacksaw Ridge‘ stands as an action-drenched, blood and guts war film with a potent dramatic core. One of the year’s best.