Sunday, November 6, 2016
Hacksaw Ridge - Movie Review
Written by Andrew Knight & Robert Schenkkan.
Directed by Mel Gibson.
I wish Mel Gibson wasn't so messed up in his personal life, because he is one talented director.
This is the true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), a WWII medic who was also a conscientious objector and refused to carry a weapon during war. We see Doss join the army, wanting to serve, but he also faces resistance and abuse when he goes through basic training and will not pick up a rifle.
His drill sergeant (Vince Vaughn) wants him to quit. His captain (Sam Worthington) wants him to quit. But Doss endures everything they throw at him, even the threat of court-martial. He refuses to quit, and he refuses to touch a weapon.
The second half of the movie deals with the title. Hacksaw Ridge is the landing point for his company's participation in the Battle of Okinawa. The battle scenes are as intense and gory as anything from Saving Private Ryan or Fury. As men are torn to pieces by bullets and bombs, Doss hops from trench to trench, tending the wounded and saving lives.
This movie hits all of the feel-good notes, but I don't see how it could work if we didn't buy Doss, and Garfield does a wonderful job as a man with sincere beliefs and an aw-shucks goodness about him. It's a performance that never feels forced, never gets cloying. There's a lot of good support in here. I haven't enjoyed a Vince Vaughn role like this in years. Hugo Weaving probably has the most to work with, as Desmond's WWI-vet father who's become an alcoholic wracked with survivors remorse. Teresa Palmer brings an earthy sweetness to Dorothy, Desmond's bride-to-be.
(It's amusing to me that this American story is full of Australians in the cast. Of the major roles, only Garfield and Vaughn are American, and Garfield grew up in the UK.)
Feels nice in these troubled times to be able to celebrate someone's heroism.