Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, Teresa Palmer, Vince Vaughn
Directed by: Mel Gibson
Written by: Robert Schenkkan, Andrew Knight
Rating: R Running Time: 2 hr. 19 min
The formula for this kind of film is pretty straightforward. Introduce our hero, Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) and get the audience on his side. Then show us why his story is worthy of our movie theaters. It’s the same approach applied to many ‘based on a true story’ films (particularly war movies), including Mel Gibson’s Braveheart, and it nearly always produces a movie worth watching. Just as long as you have a good storyteller at the helm, and a great cast in front of the camera.
As for that first requirement, not a problem, Mel Gibson is a superb story teller. He has shown us time and time again that he’s a formidable talent on both sides of the camera. As for the cast of Hacksaw Ridge, that’s mostly on target and is only let down by a miscast Vince Vaughn and a wooden performance from, Sam Worthington. Andrew Garfield nails his leading performance, and is ably supported by Teresa Palmer, Rachel Griffiths, and Hugo Weaving.
Hacksaw Ridge got me rooting for Desmond Doss, and I understood his religious convictions. The battle scenes are brutally realized, and while the clichéd moments of slow-motion death and destruction to Rupert Gregson-Williams’s rousing score were in all honesty, a bit cheesy at times—it was the kind of cheese that pushes all the right buttons! This is a by the numbers war biopic told by talented people that honors a truly brave man. What’s not to like?
Gibson doesn’t not hold back during the battle sequences. If extreme violence in film bothers you, then you might want to stay clear of this film.
Desmond Doss saved 75 people at the battle of Hacksaw Ridge. The montage showing him sneaking around collecting, treating, and then lowering soldiers to safety was great. I also really enjoyed a small scene during the first act when Desmond’s dad, Tom (Hugo Weaving) reacts after seeing Hal (Desmond’s brother played by Nathaniel Buzolic) in his uniform.