Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

If Hacksaw Ridge were made by any other figure in Hollywood, the second, action-packed half of the movie would be praised as some of the best direction of wartime action and realistic violence ever committed to film. Hacksaw Ridge was directed by Mel Gibson. There is also the problem of the first half of the film which contains melodramatic childhood flashbacks, a rushed love story, and an odd depiction of a real-life military legal battle.

Desmond Doss was a real figure, a pacifist due to his Seventh Day Adventist beliefs, who felt a profound duty to enlist and serve during World War II, but refused to carry a gun. He served as a medic and saved dozens of lives on Okinawa on a cliff nicknamed Hacksaw Ridge. The story is beyond inspirational. The first half of the story that takes place during basic training and nearly ends with Doss being imprisoned, however, is kind of annoying.

Andrew Garlfield conveys the naiveté of a pacifist going into war unarmed, as well as embodying the immense courage and competence of pulling off what Doss did. Sam Worthington, Vince Vaughn, and especially, Hugo Weaving have good outings.

Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight’s screenplay is kind of weird and disjointed, but it is mostly effective, especially towards the end.

The takeaways are Garfield and Gibson. Even though the religious symbolism was too overt it is also mostly earned. The kind of speed and ferocity in Gibson’s direction all while maintaining real clarity during the war scenes has no nearly no historical parallel.

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