Hacksaw Ridge is a biopic and dramatisation of conscientious objector Desmond T Doss, who served as a medic during the Pacific theatre, notably at the battle of Okinawa in WWII, refusing to fire or use any weapons but saving several of his comrades, the film stars Andrew Garfield, Hugo Weaving, Sam Worthington, Vince Vaughn.
The story of Hacksaw Ridge is quite an incredible one, one that’s almost too good to be true but yes, it really is and love him or hate him, Mel Gibson has a good eye for intense, visceral period dramas as it turns out and this is no exception, the cast is quite strong overall, with an A+ performance from Andrew Garfield who disappears into the role of Desmond Doss, nailing his devotion to his faith and will to not use any arms and from his general mannerisms to his cadence in talking, you can tell Garfield put a lot of effort into the role. Meanwhile the supporting cast is also quite good, Vince Vaughn (Sgt Howell) surprisingly is great as your typical WWII drama hard ass sergeant that the soldiers grow to love to hate and he’s actually not even that annoying but even more surprisingly is the much maligned Sam Worthington as Captain Glover who’s actually very solid in the role for what he gets to do. While Hugo Weaving is great as Tom Doss, Desmonds’ alcoholic father who doesn’t want to lose any more of his sons – namely Desmond to war but respects Desmonds choices in life, Weaving portrays an complex three dimensional character – as a depiction of a real person, just like Desmond was and simply seeing these characters interact makes for interesting viewing.
Desmond is so unwavering in his beliefs that it borders on frustrating to watch but you can’t help but admire his charm and passion, something Garfield adds to with his charisma and boyish like appearance and persona. The plot flows pretty naturally as we follow the 96th division (Desmonds’ division) as they go to Hacksaw Ridge in the attempt take it over and push the Japanese back, though we see this is no easy feat and a lot of ferocious fighting had been taking place. And the action itself is…. gritty, brutal and uncensored with quite a lot of interrupted action, really drawing you into how chaotic and violent the theatres in WWII were and importantly, the gore – while present is never really the focus or gratuitous in my opinion, we see it and the action moves on as does the battle and the soldiers involved, highlighting how brutal and traumatising being in the war was as soldiers see friends and comrades die around them yet they have to keep fighting.
What makes Hacksaw Ridge a bit better than your average WWII film is the profound nature of the true story around Doss, a story that was ripe for a dramatisation on the big screen, seeing his religious and moral conflicts but desire to still go to war to help others but more than that, with some great performances, certain scenes may be seen as bit of a glorification and over done to some but I was never bothered too much by the dramatisation of some events. Garfield puts in a great shift among some other great supporting actors to bring a compelling true story to life.
. Strong performances, especially Garfield, Weaving, good portrayal of Desmond Doss
. Great true story handled with care, engaging plot
. Action is uncensored but doesn’t err on the side of being gratuitous, gives combat an authentic feeling