Hacksaw Ridge is one of a handful of movies released during the Christmas break, while our review team was flaked out on the couch in a turkey and trifle coma. Now that it’s business as usual, here’s a mini catch-up review.
From director Mel Gibson comes the amazing true story of Desmond Doss, a pacifist who refused to pick up a gun, but proved himself a hero during America’s World War II campaign in the Pacific. Andrew Garfield plays Doss, while Aussies Hugo Weaving, Sam Worthington, Teresa Palmer and Rachel Griffiths pack out the cast. Oh, and there’s Vince Vaughn in there too as a drill sergeant, for some minor, welcome comic relief.
If you enjoy war movies, Hacksaw Ridge is being heralded as one of the best in years – and has the award tally to prove it. It’s very immersive and involving. A lot of that has to do with Garfield’s career-best (to date) performance as combat medic Doss, who’s heavily accented, kinda goofy, and unshakable in his faith without coming across as insufferably pious. He’s likeable and sincere. Weaving also does excellent work as Doss’s father: a complicated man still walking around with emotional shrapnel from his experiences in WWI.
Controversies aside, Gibson knows how to make a good blockbuster that sucks in the audience. He is NOT a subtle filmmaker, however. Every Japanese soldier cliché you can think of is present in the movie, while the relentless battle scenes feature splatter movie levels of gore. People with weak stomachs, beware. With exposed guts, mangled limbs and corpse-feeding maggots on frequent display, you may leave the cinema as a freshly converted vegetarian.
The only other complaint about Hacksaw Ridge is that it plays out in a very predictable, linear fashion. The film’s trailers did a tauter, more dynamic job at telling Doss’s story. Editing-wise, Hacksaw Ridge could have been shaken up more.
Still, for lovers of war films, and inspiring real-life tales that push the boundaries of believability, Hacksaw Ridge should be on your Watch list.