God. Faith. War. And an unlikely hero and a come back for Mel Gibson. With very scarce acting roles, Gibson has been mostly absent from Hollywood in the last decade, but has brought his cinematic touch to the faith and war film, “Hacksaw Ridge.” There’s plenty of morality and gore in this film that reminds us of the brilliance of Gibson’s directing talents and has all the makings of a comeback story in Hollywood.
Review by Catherine Gutierrez
“Hacksaw Ridge” is based on the real-life story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), an conscientious observer who based on his faith refused to touch a gun and take part in the “killing” when he voluntarily enrolled to serve in World War II. Participating in one of the most bloody battles in history, Desmond saved over 75 lives in the Battle of Okinawa single-handedly by pulling men out risking his own life and lowering one-by-one to safety in the span of 12 hours. That seems more of a Hollywood tale than true story, right?
The film focuses on Desmond and his unrelenting spirit that is portrayed genuinely by Garfield and encompasses his spirit wholeheartedly. In the first half of the film, we’re almost tricked into thinking this film is going to be a “tame” war film (if that’s such a thing), but don’t be fooled by the purity of Desmond that brings you to laughs in some moments by his kindheartedness. We are shown the love story between Desmond and Dorothy Schutte (Teresa Palmer) the relationship with his abusive and World War I veteran father, Tom Doss (Hugo Weaving) and his mother Bertha (Rachel Griffiths).
Gibson builds upon these images to create a foundation that builds the driving spirit of what Desmond stands for which is very effective given the latter part of the film.
“Hacksaw Ridge” shows us a side of World War II we haven’t seen before, not only with Doss’ incredible story, but in battle. One of the more difficult parts to get right in war films are the battle sequences. How much gore? How much up close in your face blood spatter? Will it be an all out assault, will there be more talking points? I can’t imagine what World War II was like, but I think Gibson definitely might have given us a close glimpse to the brutality, fast paced intensity and all out gore that war produces.
Captain Glover (Sam Worthington) and Sergeant Howell (Vince Vaughn) play their roles brilliantly. Although expectedly against Doss for exercising his right as a conscientious observer, their roles never cross the cruelty mark. Yes, they did allow attacks against Desmond, but Worthington and Vaughn’s portrayal lends truth that they were just going on what they believed to be right and protect their men from someone they did not understand.
The battle scenes in this film do not shy away from depicting the brutality and, if you do not like gore and guts literally out there, then I’d say to suck it up and see the film anyway, because war is not rainbows and butterflies and Gibson juxtaposes Doss’ unrelenting faith and unwavering perseverance in the midst of hell itself.
From the battle sequences including an incredible score and sound design you’d imagine that this was a big budget Hollywood film, when in reality it’s an indie film made in 59 days which is simply a credit to all involved and Gibson’s directing. The production and direction is some of the best I’ve seen all year and in the world of sequels, superheroes this film is refreshing. Also given the political climate this year, it’s a relief to see such a story based on love and a true hero who risked his life to save his men.
Here’s a clip of the real life Desmond Doss and “Hacksaw Ridge” trailer
“Hacksaw Ridge” is now out in theaters!
You’ll find me posting the cool things you see on Shuffle with a taco always in hand. Is there any other way to work?! Being highly caffeinated is normal and sometimes I hang out with my husband, sometimes, if he bring tacos. Follow me on Instagram @thingscatloves and Twitter @things_catloves and Snapchat @keedycat21.