Hacksaw Ridge

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Hacksaw Ridge

Mel Gibson directs a bloody tale of battlefield heroism starring Andrew Garfield as a conscientious objector

After a decade-long absence, Mel Gibson returns to directing with a brutal war film that has a rousing tale of God-inspired heroism at its heart. 'Hacksaw Ridge' is the true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), an army medic and decorated WWII soldier who was a conscientious objector, a position informed by his Christian faith. Doss refused to even touch a gun, and Gibson’s mission in retelling his story is clear and uncomplicated: He wants to honor Doss’s gentle determination to stick to his beliefs and to show how his faith was ultimately vindicated by his selflessness on the front lines of combat.

'Hacksaw Ridge' is not subtle, but it is brutally effective, and it contains some of the most justifiably violent battle scenes ever committed to film. Before we get there, it’s a more traditional movie. We watch as Doss dodges his violent, alcoholic war-veteran father (Hugo Weaving) at home in rural Virginia and meets his future wife Dorothy (Teresa Palmer), a nurse, in the film’s most corny scenes.

It’s only when Doss joins the military, faces a possible court-martial and later heads to Japan that the contradiction of his being a soldier and refusing to touch a weapon properly kicks in and gives the film proper dramatic weight. There are strong scenes in the training camp, where Gibson and the script by Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan resist portraying Doss’s army colleagues as unsympathetic brutes. In turn, they also refuse to treat Doss as a misunderstood messiah. Wisely, he is presented as mostly unremarkable, and Garfield is endearing, playing him as likable and kind, someone who could easily fade into the background. His permanent smile suggests a guy with a simple, settled approach to life.

But that’s all window dressing compared to the main event: the re-creation of the Battle of Okinawa defines 'Hacksaw Ridge'. Long, unrelenting, skillfully choreographed and taking up almost half the film, the conflict is masterfully handled. Prepare to see guts and blood. Prepare, too, for an eye-rolling moment that makes explicit Doss’s relationship with his God (though frankly it could be worse; we’ve all seen 'The Passion of the Christ'). Don’t expect any sympathetic treatment of the Japanese: they firmly remain the enemy, and you’d be forgiven for feeling the odd twinge of discomfort at just how vividly their demise is shown and how Gibson steals horror-movie techniques to stress how terrifying their villainy is. Overall, there aren’t many shades of gray in 'Hacksaw Ridge', but it’s a movie that fulfills its purpose with vigor, confidence and swagger, and those battle scenes are impossible to take your eyes off of.

By: Dave Calhoun

Posted:

Release details

Duration: 131 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Mel Gibson
Screenwriter: Andrew Knight, Robert Schenkkan
Cast: Andrew Garfield
Sam Worthington
Vince Vaughn
Rachel Griffiths
Teresa Palmer
Hugo Weaving

Average User Rating

4.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:9
  • 4 star:4
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|15
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Tastemaker

I was forced into watching this by my boyfriend, he wanted to see it in the cinema and by time I had agreed, it had stopped being showed. Feeling guilty, we made a night of it. 


I went in feeling closed off, not being a huge fan of war or even action movies. I was so unbelievably wrong! There was a Braveheart-esque love story woven into the beginning, with a wonderful storyline explaining who Desmond Doss is and explanation of his strong Christian beliefs.


The story progressed so well and really drew viewers deeper into the plotline. I was thoroughly engaged the whole way through and so keen to find out how it ended.


The gore wasn't for shockfactor, but more for an accurate display of war and what the soldiers must have gone through. It was so vivid, I was beginning to imagine how fighting may have felt.


Fantastic movie, directed by Mel Gibson. Definitely one I would recommend again and again.

Tastemaker

If you're a fan of war films based on true events and can stomach incredible amounts of full on gore then this may be the film for you! As ever the film's accuracy to the real life events is questionable but the battle elements feel disturbingly real, which I guess is justification for the endless amounts of limbs, flying across the screen. The real events on which it's based are the heroic endeavours of Desmond Doss a conscientious objector who set about single handily rescuing 75 wounded fellow soldiers at the battle of Okinawa who had otherwise been left for dead. The story is incredible, as is the quality of filmmaking. It's a bit of an endurance test to get through it, but it's well worth it, and you certainly won't forget it.

Tastemaker

Why this film hasn't won more awards or best film is beyond me. Yes I am a guy and I can stomach some gore, but look past the gore and blood and beneath lies a storage of true courage and faith. This movie is all the more inspirational once you find out that it is based on a true story! In fact *SPOILER ALERT* the real life story of Desmond Doss is EVEN MORE action packed than the movie could handle and the filmmakers thought that telling the entire story would make the movie even more difficult to believe! You don't see that often. Wont be giving out anymore spoilers but Andrew Garfield is excellent in the show. I can't wait to see him in Angels in America this year at the National Theatre!!

Tastemaker

I am not a fan of war movies, in fact I don't think I've watched more than I can count on one finger. I did enjoy this movie, even though I had to close my eyes several times. It did have an impact to me as it reminded me of war and fights, and how lucky I am to experience it from the comfort of the cinema. I'm not sure if this guy was brave or just naive but his story is definitely heartbreaking and inspiring. Mel Gibson did a good job on that one. Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughn and the rest gave great performances. Recommended!

Tastemaker

Lots of cliches here - Hugo Weaving's portrayal as Doss's alcoholic father battling his own war trauma; the sweetly old-fashioned love and loyalty of Teresa Palmer's local nurse; brutal boot camp; superb one-liners from Vince Vaughn's drill sergeant... the scenes set in America are, at times, in danger of being a little too schmaltzy and stereotypical. However, Andrew Garfield's portrayal as the unassuming Desmond Doss saves these plot-lines, particularly when he shines with the light of both Doss's convictions and his righteousness.


The Christ-metaphors are, perhaps, also a little overplayed at times (as my brother put it: "it's very gung-ho America Jesus is my shield"), but the cinematography of the Pacific War is breath-taking. One cannot help but be reminded of the opening sequences of Saving Private Ryan, but Mel Gibson's direction lives up to such comparison. 


The chaos and cruelty of war is effectively off-set by Garfield's depiction of Doss's quiet courage. His mantra to his Lord ("...just one more...") as he turns once again into the storm of shot and shell becomes more and more agonising as exhaustion takes its toll, and the audience mirrors his metaphorical deep breath as he is asked to once more to face the enemy, no more a hindrance without a rifle but an inspiration to those who follow him back into the mouth of Hell.


An old-fashioned story effectively told and a fitting tribute to a remarkable man.

Tastemaker

Not a big fan of Mel Gibson as a director but I've trully enjoyed the film history and acting.


Those of a nervous disposition should avoid. The battle scenes in this movie make Saving Private Ryan look like a fight in a school playground. Mel Gibson gives this heroic true story the full Hollywood treatment - and at times it teeters on the edge of being corny - but he carries it off, thanks to the central performance of Andrew Garfield which is understated and wholly likeable. Vince Vaughan is entertaining too as the aggressive drill sergeant. A powerful two hours at the cinema and a moving tribute to human courage.

Tastemaker

Not an easy film to watch but there are some stunning performances in this action-packed and moving war epic about a man who refuses to even touch a gun but is desperate to serve as a medic in World War II. Andrew Garfield steals the show.

tastemaker

Hard to watch but so glad I did!


At times, my eyes were permanently shut, others wide open completely mesmerised by the action shots.


You don't miss a single bang, jolt, gun shot, everything is shot with great realistic effect.


The story line flows perfectly, constantly gripping you throughout the film and the acting is amazing - Hugo Weaving, Vince Vaughan are stand out supporting acts.


'Help me get one more' the haunting message that you will take away, even get a little weepy.


Fantastic piece of history brought to life for us to understand, appreciate and mourn.

tastemaker

It starts off as a sentimental tale of a simple American family (dysfunctional elements slightly touched on) before advancing into a distasteful blood bath.Yes War is ugly - but do God fearing "thou shall not kill" believers really want to celebrate the obscene catalogue of atrocities Mel Gibson has served up. 

I have no problem with the simple minded message of the film, but I find the appalling depiction of slaughter just a little bit exploitative.  


Tremendous war movie. Best in many a year. Wonderful acting through out with superb battle scenes.

Tastemaker

GARFIELD FOR PRESIDENT! Or, erm, Prime Minister. Or for an Oscar. Oh sod it, just give him everything. 

tastemaker

An outstanding film with outstanding acting especially by British Andrew Garfield. His accent is so convincingly American that I had to double check! The Battle of Okinawa was a terrible and bloody battle between the Americans and Japanese only this battle had a strong ray of light and hope driving through the bullets and bombs which went by the name of Desmond Doss. A true story, we see Doss as the religious, vegetarian, conscientious objector that he was, determined to serve his country but also determined never to use arms. He was almost court-martialled for holding on to his beliefs and views firmly. However, eventually Doss was permitted to become the medic he so much wanted to become and walk headlong into battle carrying nothing more than a few bandages and morphine injections. His faith must have been strong! The rest of the film needs to unfold without words from anyone. Just have a tissue to hand!

tastemaker

Splendid!


I never heard about this true story before but I was absolutely transcended by the movie!


During the second world war, United States are fighting against Japan, a young soldier decides he wants to serve his country but by saving most lives as possible rather than taking some. He will never derogate from his convictions and this is beautiful, making this war film beautiful despite of the hard images we saw in it.


Even on this war environment, Mel Gibson manages to tear us out of laughter by showing us human nature during their soldiers training.


I especially appreciate to see how the movie is respecting some memories of the soldiers; it gives just more credit to the story.


The movie just came out, so you have plenty of time to go watch it!

Tastemaker

Bring on the Oscars 2017....


The movie starts really slow: set in Virginia Desmond Doss appears to be just the average American boy and despite witnessing his father fighting with his own ghosts (WWI veteran) he still decides to enlist and support his country. The first third of the movies gives you a broad overview over Desmond Doss himself and the history that shaped him.


Although it becomes clear from the beginning that Desmond's faith is vital you don't realise it until he starts his military training and refuses to even touch a gun. First you understand his superiors opinion putting everybody at risk, by refusing to be able to defend himself. But as the story unfolds the support for Doss' and his belief begins to settle in.


Once they land Japan it is hard to sit still, as you watch the peak of the story unravel in front of you. The war scenes are shocking and brutal (you might hear the occasional gasp in the cinema), but you won't be able to look away and cringe more often than you'd ever admit.

Desmond's heroic actions move into the center and in the end all you wish for is for him to make it out alive - blending out the fact that it is indeed a true story.


The movie gives the impression, that Mel Gibson has used his hiatus wisely and Andrew Garfield turns from a likeable, but ordinary guy into a war hero whos story should have been told a long time ago.


Note that it is not just a grim, dark movie - but it has some scenes that make you smile (mostly thanks to Vince Vaughn in my opinion) and help to digest the gruesome bits.