“War…what is it good for….Absolutely Nothing?” If you haven’t heard the Edwin Starr song from the 1970’s or its popularization through the Rush Hour films then watching this movie will certainly bring gravitas to these words. Despite what you think of him, Mel Gibson has once again created a masterpiece of film making that will have you riveted to your seat.
Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) , a conscientious objector, enlists in World War II as a medic. However, Doss, due to his strong religious convictions and an attempted murder experience against his father in his youth, refuses to carry a gun into battle. This leads to considerable persecution from his fellow comrades during training at Fort Jackson.
Following months of humiliation, Doss secures the right to participate in the war during the Battle of Okinawa and navigate the treacherous “Hacksaw Ridge”.
Hacksaw Ridge is one of those movies that is a must see. Not many films fall into this category (I can count them all on one hand) but this “True Story” will surely be part of many movie goers top ten pictures of all time.
When interviewed, during promotion of the movie, Mel Gibson stated that the film was a love story about brothers in arms and should not be considered a war picture. Whichever way you choose to look at this picture, one thing is for sure, Mel Gibson knows how to make movies. Even further, whatever you may think of his off-screen exploits, Gibson in his recent television appearances, looking like the love child of a woolly mammoth and a grizzly bear who recently went homeless for the last 6 months, has taken a massive step forward in repairing his damaged public reputation by delivering a moving and genuinely raw viewing experience.
From a slowish first half, which fleshes out the back story of Doss and his experiences at Fort Jackson, the second half picks up the pace rapidly. With as much subtlety as a Donald Trump pro-white speech at a Black Panthers rally, the second halves opening battle sequences will leave you soiling your pants. Not since Saving Private Ryan have such visceral sequences of war been committed to celluloid.
The acting performances are above par as well. Andrew Garfield is superb as Desmond Doss and gives such an earnest performance, one is hard pressed to believe that this is a man from Surrey in the UK and not the actual Virginian veteran himself. Other notable mentions include Teresa Palmer as Doss’ loving wife Dorothy, Vince Vaughan as the ball busting Sergeant Major, and Sam Worthington as Doss’ Commanding Officer, who surprisingly manages to act, rather than his normal unconvincing impression of a brick wall.
Overall, Hacksaw Ridge is a magnificent movie and a welcome return for Mel Gibson after a 10 year hiatus. If you want a story that is true and not just based on one then this movie is for you.
I give this 4.25 out 5 chillies. So spicy you will feel it when you paint the porcelain in the morning.