Hacksaw Ridge: Film Review

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I’m not the biggest fan of war movies but I was encouraged to see Hacksaw Ridge after it received a 10-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival in September. It’s now obvious to see why. This is probably the best war movie made in recent years and features some extraordinary performances.

Andrew Garfield stars as the real-life Desmond Doss, who signs up for the US Army during World War II as a medic, but he causes issues within his company when he refuses to pick up a rifle, on both political and moral grounds. They want him to leave, thinking he will be dead weight and weaken the team, but no matter what they do to him, he refuses to use a weapon or leave. He soon proves his worth during the Battle of Okinawa, when he single-handedly saved the lives of 75 men without using a gun.

Just typing the plot brings tears to my eyes. I love films that shed light on such extraordinary people and acts of bravery. Doss could have easily jacked in rescuing men in his medic post when his company pulled out during a Japanese attack, but he kept going – the only man still up on the ridge after the others had left, finding the wounded and sending them down on a rope. He kept going throughout the night, even when he was exhausted and his hands were ripped to shreds. It’s such an incredible story.

Garfield was perfectly cast as Doss – a gentle Virginia man, who is a bit goofy and looks weak and timid, but soon proves his strength on the battlefield. Garfield recently proved his acting chops in 99 Homes, but most people still think of him as Spider-Man, so hopefully this will help separate him from that. He’s an incredible actor, who has a superb Virginia accent. I’m so glad he’s received awards buzz for his performance, although I would have liked more appreciation for Hugo Weaving, who plays his alcoholic war veteran father Thomas.

Mel Gibson, in his first directorial project in ten years, has told a beautiful story in a riveting and moving way, but he has also brought out fantastic performances in everybody – including those you wouldn’t expect. Most obviously Vince Vaughn – he has been in so much crap but here he is the barking, darkly comedic Sergeant, who wants to get rid of Doss but is soon left in awe by his courage, which is similar to Sam Worthington, the Captain. Australian Luke Bracey, who had a flop to his name with the recent Point Break remake, really stands out as Smitty, Doss’ enemy-turned-friend.

This is incredibly powerful and violent. The war time scenes are chaotic and you can’t really tell what’s happening, but I guess that’s the whole point. I was so invested in Doss and the survival of his men, which is rare when you have a cast this big. It’s not all dramatic and sad though – there are some very light-hearted scenes, such as Doss’ courting of soon-to-be wife Dorothy (Teresa Palmer, captivating), his arrival into his dormitory and the introduction to his comrades and Sergeant.

There are no more superlatives. I loved it without question and have no faults. Please go see this!

In cinemas Friday 27th January.

 

Trackbacks

  1. […] may include films I actually saw in late 2015 and although I desperately wanted to put La La Land, Hacksaw Ridge, Lion and Free Fire on this list, they aren’t out until 2017, so unfortunately they […]

  2. […] owns it. Above all else, this has to be seen for his performance. He is SO GOOD. Between this and Hacksaw Ridge, he has had a fantastic year and has established himself away from […]

  3. […] I have already seen because that means I’m not excited about them any more. For example, Hacksaw Ridge would have definitely made the list if I hadn’t seen it […]

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