Hacksaw Ridge, directed by Mel Gibson, is based on a true story and is about the life of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), a conscientious objector to World War II who a decides to go over and serve in the Army with only one caveat, he won’t carry a gun. He wants to be a field medic and save lives on the battlefield, but he has a conviction against taking a life or even holding a gun. This film tells his journey to enlisting to his time on the battlefield.
I was really interested in this film once I saw the first trailer. The trailer made this film look like something that is new and interesting when it came to World War II films and it was going to be focused on a battle that had never been shown on film up until now. Then I saw the trailer again and I saw that this was based on a true story and that was when I realized that this film was going to be either really great or amazingly boring. Luckily, this film turned out to be incredibly great and is one of the best films of the year.
The reason that this film is so incredible is because of Mel Gibson’s directing. Whether or not you hate Mel Gibson in his personal life because of the many comments that he has made, which were awful if you haven’t heard them, he is an amazing filmmaker. He is able the adeptly build the character of Desmond so well and makes the character so lovable. Gibson gives credence to both sides of the conflict before the film gets to Okinawa, but he never loses sight of Desmond’s struggle to “put a little bit of the world back together,” and I thought that was beautiful the way he did it.
Then the film gets to Okinawa, and all hell breaks loose and this is where Mel Gibson shines. His battle scenes are so visceral and real that it is an honest look at the horrors of war and what exactly Desmond is fighting for. It is a great juxtaposition to the idealistic first half of the film and to Desmond’s idealistic worldview. It doesn’t glorify the violence, but it doesn’t shy away from it either. Gibson, to not think of a better way to put it, creates a beauty in the horror of war. I couldn’t take my eyes away from the screen, no matter how horrifying it got, that was the beauty of it.
The performances by the entire cast were great as well. Vince Vaughn was great as the drill sergeant because what is a war film without a drill sergeant. Luke Bracey and Sam Worthington were also great as two of the soldiers that were originally against Desmond’s pacifist stance. Teresa Palmer was also great as Desmond’s fiancée and she and Andrew Garfield have great chemistry. The standout of the supporting characters though was Hugo Weaving as Desmond’s father. He was brilliant as an alcoholic and someone who was in pain from his war experience and doesn’t want that for his son. The standout though was obviously Andrew Garfield.
Garfield was absolutely incredible as Desmond Doss. He was able to play him as the sweet, innocent kid who was awkward around a girl that he had a crush on, but he was also to play him as the intense, conviction driven man in the middle of a warzone. He was so believable as this man and Garfield’s performance just made you root for him no matter what even though, at the same time that you are rooting for him, you’re thinking he is insane.
I really only have one small gripe with this film and it is pretty much a nitpick. In the first half of the film, there are several character beats that felt that they happened really quickly without much though on them. One scene a character was one way and the next scene they felt the opposite way. But it really wasn’t that noticeable.
Overall, this film is an intense, heartfelt, and violent film that is not for the faint of heart, but one that I believe people need to go out and see.