Mel Gibson's ultra-violet film Hacksaw Ridge is both a terrifying depiction of warfare and a peaceful examination of one man's commitment to faith. Andrew Garfield gives a captivating performance, despite the film's somewhat flawed script.
Mel Gibson steps behind the camera once again to direct Hacksaw Ridge, an ultra-violent war film that’s based on the true story of Desmond Doss — a medic soldier that helped change the war without ever picking up a rifle.
Gibson’s film focuses on the character of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) and his connection to God and his belief of wanting to join the war and serve his country, but by doing so without ever taking a single life. Doss refuses to take weapons training class and almost gets tossed into military prison because of his strong beliefs.
Hacksaw Ridge may look like another ultra-violet war film and while it is definitely violent and full of warfare — it’s also an examination of one man’s faith and morality. The film’s first half is spent away from the battlefield and spread out across boot camp training and spending time in Doss’ hometown.
It is there where he meets his eventual wife Dorothy (Teresa Palmer) and it is there where he discovers his want to become a medic in the War. Mel Gibson does his best directing from a script that’s not without its flaws. Hacksaw Ridge might feel cliched and riddled with a lack of consistency and that’s mostly fine, because Gibson’s ability to elevate the story is the true saving grace, paired with Andrew Garfield‘s stubborn, but determined performance.
Garfield’s stereotypical babyface actually helps him in the film, managing to make the character believable, yet likable, despite his viewpoint from an outsiders point of view. A good portion consists of outsiders’ perspective on Doss and their ability to trust him and understand his point of view and both Gibson and Garfield do a splendid job keeping Doss level-headed and sympathetic, without making him downright pathetic or ignorant.
The film’s later moments that take place on the battlefield will without a doubt elicit tears from those more prone to crying at the cinema and that’s because the film’s story really is a marvelous one and one that gives us a slightly different look at World War II.
Gibson doesn’t cut any corners either, leaving endless amounts of blood and body parts on the dirty ridge as dozens, if not hundreds of men go to war in one of the most grueling films to depict such an event. Gibson’s ability to capture the frantic hellfire of war in a way that’s tragic for both sides is to be noted and commended. This isn’t just another God Bless USA depiction of war and instead an eye-opening look at the military and its views on warfare and what is expected of a soldier.
The way Doss is treated early on in the film is somewhat expected, but then carried out in ways that I was not aware of.
Hacksaw Ridge might not be the best war film ever made, but it’s definitely a strong one that gives us a starring performance worthy of watching the whole way through. The film’s central focus is different enough to separate the film from other countless other WWII films, yet Gibson manages to bring enough action and warfare to surely please those looking for a film that presents the ugliest and sometimes most realistic parts of war.
And yet it doesn’t feel like a complete bummer, because of Desmond Doss and his incredibly motivating true story that helped save the lives of so many men and prove that all soldiers are an important part of war and not just those looking to kill.