Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review


Movie Review- Hacksaw Ridge
Looks like lil' Forrest likes to play ping pong with grenades too

"I don't know how I'm going to live with myself if I don't stay true to what I believe."

Regardless of how anyone feels about Mel Gibson as a person, no one can deny that the man has acting and directing skills that place him in the top tier of Hollywood's performers. Besides, anybody who says that they haven't said anything mean about another race at any time in their lives, is a damn hypocrite. Everybody gets upset, and everybody has gone over the line. Mel's problem was that he let his personal issues cloud his judgment, and he unleashed his issues as a tirade in front of witnesses.

If Kanye West can be forgiven for all of the asinine things that he has done over the years, can't Hollywood forgive Mel Gibson for those things that he's apologized for time and again? I mean with his directions alone (The Man Without a Face, Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ, Apocalypto), can't anyone see how important it is to have him back in the chair in Tinseltown? However, he does seem to be pretty effective when it comes to getting private funding (I hope it's not the Neo Nazis, lol).

Hacksaw Ridge

Gibson's fifth direction (and first in a decade) is another indicator of just how formidable he is as a filmmaker. Hacksaw Ridge is small, adequate, and larger than life, all rolled into one. The only shame here, is that this film should have been made sooner, before its events unintentionally mimicked those of other war films (Biloxi Blues, Forrest Gump, G.I. Jane, Saving Private Ryan, and with a touch of Walk the Line). We've seen the parts of this story told before, yet Gibson's skills and a solid handful of performances from its actors, makes this movie not only watchable, but memorable.

That's important, because even though the look during the World War II has to be solid (and it is), it doesn't mean anything if the characters aren't able to take us on their passage with them. It's also strong in the storytelling that when they have a character with a strong faith in the Lord and in his own convictions, it can make a non-traditional believer as myself feel pride and respect without any bias. The preaching is light, but the message is powerful; "Thou Shalt Not Kill". And Andrew Garfield's (The Social Network) impossible hero makes us believe it wholeheartedly.

No one wears out their welcome in Hacksaw Ridge, except for Garfield. I know that's odd to hear, but I'll try to clarify. Garfield's performance is a hundred percent committed, yet his presence is overshadowed by more appealing actors, and he's not an actor that I care to see for an entire film. His puppy love for Theresa Palmer (Warm Bodies) is adorable and his stubborn stance on his beliefs is admirable, however two other actors steal the show. Hugo Weaving (The Matrix) as Garfield's Father, is so compelling as a man who's lost so much from war, that the film could (and possibly should) have switched to his past instead.

I always forget how good Weaving is, but this exhibition of his will not leave my memory any time soon. Vince Vaughn (Be Cool) as Garfield's drill sergeant, is brilliant as an unintentionally funny hard ass. He brings the film's funniest moments, and puts a realistic heart into the situation. The only downside to seeing Vaughn in a role this good, is knowing that most people only recognize him for his basic comedies instead. Even the stereotypical bully that (inevitably) changes his opinion later on (Luke Bracey, G.I. Joe: Retaliation), is given a few scenes to make his mark without bogging the story down. The real story is of Garfield's personal lifelong struggle that culminates with his bravery at Hacksaw Ridge, and Gibson and crew makes the most of it when it finally gets there.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of Hacksaw Ridge

The Good- Feelings at the dinner table, Vaughn's naming of the cadets, and the bloody relentlessness of the battle.

The Bad- Every time Garfield would throw a wounded soldier over his shoulder and run them to safety, I couldn't help but think of Forrest Gump getting shot in the buttocks. It totally took me out of the film, but at least I laughed. Also, a soldier using a dead man's upper body as a human shield while he runs at the enemy, looks more funny than graphic in the tradition of Tropic Thunder.

The Ugly- Maybe I'm culturally insensitive, but the sight of Japanese leaders committing ritual suicide because of failure (harakiri), makes me laugh, and point, and say, "Haha, you dumbass!". I guess I am a true fan of Gibson.

Final Thoughts

Hacksaw Ridge is a very good display of human endurance against staggering opposition. Only two films have left me feeling teary-eyed by the end, and this is one of them. This is another moderately budgeted film that didn't get carried away with itself just for shock and awe. It smacks you upside the head, makes you understand why the smack came down, then smacks you some more. Good show, Mel!
Rating- 8 out of 10

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

R | 2h 19min | Drama, History, War | 4 November 2016 (USA) 

WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people, and becomes the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot.

Director: Mel Gibson
Writers: Robert Schenkkan (screenplay), Andrew Knight (screenplay)
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey