Review of the first film in 10 years from director Mel Gibson about Desmond Doss, a WWII medic who refused to touch a gun
By Carter Bagley
Mel Gibson has fallen out of public approval in the past decade with many of the things he’s done and I’d say it’s pretty justified. His career has definitely been affected by this but there’s no argument that he has the ability to direct the shit out of a film. Films like “Braveheart” and “Apocalypto” have or will gain classic status as they’re both fantastic films especially the former which is one of the best of its era. Now ten years after his last film he has adapted a true WWII story about a young man named Desmond Doss who joined the war but because of his beliefs he was not willing to touch a weapon, opting instead to save lives as a medic. I was worried when I first heard of this film because Desmond Doss was very driven by his religious beliefs and Gibson isn’t exactly the best at subtlety when it comes to his religious beliefs; Although he surprisingly manages to tone that topic down and the film doesn’t come across as heavy-handed or preachy. The film follows Doss’ story from when he’s a young boy living in a small town in Virginia with his competitive brother, drunken abusive father and loving mother all the way through the brutal battle on Hacksaw Ridge. Andrew Garfield gives a truly amazing performance as Doss and maybe gives the best performance of his entire career so far. He makes Doss a protagonist to root for and whether or not you agree with his beliefs, you know he believes in them deeply and his complete conviction is commendable in its own right. Hugo Weaving who you probably know from his roles in films like The Matrix, V for Vendetta, or Lord of the Rings gives an extremely impressive performance as Doss’ drunk father. He doesn’t just come off as a scumbag, which it easily could have, but instead shows a deeply hurt layered man who despite doing many awful things you still feel pity for him. Vince Vaughn is also surprising as a Sergeant and is a great way for Vaughn to show off a more dramatic side to him we haven’t seen. Maybe the biggest surprise though for me is Luke Bracey who is actually great as a fellow soldier to Doss. Bracey proves he can actually act and be a complex character rather than give purely awful performances like he did in “The Best of Me” and the remake of “Point Break”. Sam Worthington also shows up as Captain Glover and does a considerably better job than he has in a lot of past roles. Gibson’s direction is fantastic along with Simon Duggan’s cinematography as they created really intense and brutal war scenes. The one thing this film doesn’t do is glorify the war itself as I felt uneasy during a lot of the severely horrifying scenes. Many people are claiming it as war propaganda which I really don’t see at all to be honest as it depicts the war as something horrifying rather than glorifying. The only real flaw I had is that the first act had a few cheesy moments that didn’t feel entirely authentic and the movie didn’t really have a sense of realism until the war itself. However,”Hacksaw Ridge” is definitely one of the best war films I’ve seen in many years and I think it has all the qualities and star power of going down as a classic.