HACKSAW RIDGE is unflinchingly poetic in dealing with one man’s views on war
Let’s get this out of the way early. If you’ve done wrong in the public’s eye in the past, prepare to carry that burden for a long time, especially in Hollywood. If you rub execs or the really big movers and shakers the wrong way, you can all but be assured of an early fruitless retirement from the industry. Some examples of this are Isaiah Washington (made homophobic comments), Kirk Cameron (for being TOO religious), Thora Birch/Katherine Heigl (both were rumored to be extremely demanding and difficult) and Jim Caviezel (for simply choosing to take on the role of Jesus Christ in Passion of the Christ which was directed by the next name I’m about to mention). This brings us to Mel Gibson. Ever since Gibson was arrested for drunk driving and went on a well documented anti-Semitic rant, he has been all but invisible in the industry. Apparently ten years is just the perfect duration to remain in the timeout chair because he’s back and people are taking notice of his latest project, Hacksaw Ridge.
Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) grew up in a hostile home with his mother, father and brother. His father, played by Hugo Weaving (The Matrix (1999)) is a WWI vet who hides in his bottle and lashes out at his family His mother, played by Rachel Griffiths, leads Desmond towards a life heavily grounded in the church and its beliefs. These beliefs follow him to the next chapter in his life where he voluntarily enlists in the United States Army during WWII. The caveat to his defending his country is his refusal to bear arms. Wait….what? Desmond’s stance on the Sixth Commandment is unwavering and nonnegotiable. As you might expect, this does not go over well at all during his time in training. It is here that Desmond realizes just how strong his resolve is. Saving lives is more important to Desmond Doss than taking them so he plans on putting himself in harm’s way as an unarmed medic.
Hacksaw Ridge is an incredible true story that simply must be seen to believe. If you have doubts as to the legitimacy of the story being told, you should know that there weren’t very many liberties taken with this magnificent retelling. As a matter of fact, audiences will be treated to some very nice footage at the end of the film that should help solidify the story’s impact. Mel Gibson is no stranger to what a gripping war tale should look like. After all, he did star in We Were Soldiers (2002), The Patriot (2000) and Braveheart (1995). One thing that each of these movies shared was the simple brutality that war creates captured perfectly on the screen. This feature is no different. At times it was every bit as brutal as Saving Private Ryan (1998). In addition to the downright carnage witnessed, Gibson didn’t hesitate to switch gears on the fly and deal with a more emotionally engaged story. Between the flying bullets, relationships stood tall. Whether it was a relationship between father and son, husband and wife or even battalion mates, there were bonds formed, and sometimes broken.
Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)) needs to send a giant thank you basket to both Sony and Disney for allowing Disney to control the rights to the web slinging character. After that decision was made a couple of years ago, it freed up Garfield’s schedule. In 2014 he starred in 99 Homes which may have been somewhat of a sleeper but it’s currently sitting at an impressively fresh 92% right now. Hacksaw Ridge is now his second role since shedding the Peter Parker persona. He shines as the simple kid from Virginia who’s just looking to do right by God. There are so many life lessons to be taken from the movie and, as it turns out, Garfield was the perfect choice to give them. Also starring and providing great supporting help are Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies (2013)), Vince Vaughn (Delivery Man (2013)) and Sam Worthington (Everest (2015)). The list really goes on and on as far as great performances throughout but clearly it’s Garfield who stands the tallest.
Say what you will about Mel Gibson’s previous transgressions, if you should choose not to see Hacksaw Ridge only because of that, then you will be doing yourself a disservice. Remember that Desmond Doss was a real person and these were his real acts. This war film, like most others, is filled with graphic violence. The only concern here is to convey a proper message. If the audience cannot appreciate the impossible challenges this man faced then all is for not. The violence is a necessary part of the process. Thankfully the story doesn’t depend just on that aspect of the film. Learning about Desmond in his private life is as equally important and audiences will get an ample amount of time to learn his intricacies.
With a very balanced plot and superb casting and acting, Hacksaw Ridge will suck you in from the beginning and spit you out at the end an enlightened person. The story of the life of Desmond Doss needs to be witnessed to be believed. Check it out in theaters right now.