Director: Mel Gibson
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, Vince Vaughn
Runtime: 2 hrs 19 minutes
Rating: M18 (Violence and Gore)
Released By: The Walt Disney Company
Official Website: http://www.hacksawridge.movie/
Opening Day: 19 January 2017
Synopsis: HACKSAW RIDGE is the extraordinary true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) who, in Okinawa during the bloodiest battle of WWII, saved 75 men without firing or carrying a gun. He was the only American soldier in WWII to fight on the front lines without a weapon, as he believed that while the war was justified, killing was nevertheless wrong. As an army medic, he single-handedly evacuated the wounded from behind enemy lines, braved fire while tending to soldiers, and was wounded by a grenade and hit by snipers. Doss was the first conscientious objector awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
In this reviewer’s opinion, Andrew Garfield deserves more attention than Ryan Gosling during this awards season. Sure, both actors have pretty faces – but wouldn’t the 33 year old deserve more credit for roughing it out in a war epic (the American British actor gets himself really dirty with mud and blood) than 36 year old Gosling who gets to look suave in his nicely tailored coat in a musical drama?
Then we have Mel Gibson - the 61-year-old actor took home the Best Director Oscar for his work on Braveheart (1995), and went on to helm the controversial The Passion of the Christ (2004) and Apocalypto (2006). Of course, movie goers know him as Martin Riggs in the Lethal Weapon series, as well as the original Mad Max.
With his fourth directorial work featuring Garfield as a combat medic who refused to carry or use a firearm or weapons of any kind, is Hollywood ready to embrace Gibson, who had his fair share of trouble with alcohol abuse and legal issues?
The 139 minute movie is obviously an Oscar bait – and a very good one too. Based on a documentary about Desmond Doss, an American pacifist who is also a Seventh day Adventist Christian, the film tells the story of his experience in World War II. After nearly killing his brother and a talk from his religious mother, Doss became a firm believer of the Fifth Commandment of the Old Testament, that one shall not kill. With that belief, he is still motivated to sign up with the army to do his part for the country. He eventually went on to rescue over 75 soldiers at Hacksaw Ridge and awarded with the Medal of Honour for service above and beyond the call of duty, making him the first conscientious objector to be recognised with this accolade.
This is not your usual war movie. It is one that actually makes you feel for the characters, as well as their patriotism and personal beliefs. Garfieldis perfectly cast as Doss: you see how the scrawny actor bears the brunt of his team mates and becoming a true hero of war. The ensemble cast is great too. Vince Vaughn does exceptionally well as a sergeant who hollers down his men and injects homour at the same time. Sam Worthington is a captain who stands by his men, while Hugo Weaving is Doss’s alcoholic father who is also a troubled veteran of the war.
Everyone knows war isn’t a good thing, and the battle scenes in this movie confirm that. These intense sequences are violent, bloody and devastating. You will be impressed by the amount of detail that went into choreographing these scenes, and the work done for sound design and editing. There is a generous amount of these scenes, and while watching them unfold on the big screen, you will feel somewhat forlorn that this can happen in real life.
Besides the perfectly executed action scenes, what makes this highly recommended movie stand out is that it has a heartfelt story to tell – one that prides itself with the universal themes of family, conviction, love and atonement. It almost feels like Gibson’s message to Hollywood.
(Mel Gibson delivers a heartfelt piece of work which brings out the beauty of keeping your faith in times of extreme adversity)
Review by John Li