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Hacksaw Ridge: Movie Review

” One of the greatest heroes in American History never fired a bullet.”

Set during WWII Hacksaw Ridge follows most war movies in concern of layout and war movie appeal. However, this story follows a different young man, American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who serves during the Battle of Okinawa. This film is focused on virtue, commitment, heroism, and upholding a moral standard. I think this world has lost sight of any moral standard and this film is good for getting that idea back in line. Mel Gibson, as an overall director is stunning. And when you see this you know he’s right for war films. He delivers the violence and harsh reality of trench war and still helps the characters build, and not have them look simply like nameless soldiers.

The film opens with two violent young brothers, Desmond and Howard Doss. They’re father, Tom (Hugo Weaving) is introduced as a victim of hate, bursts of anger, and guilt. Eighteen years before, Tom had served in the war. Later we find out all of his friends were killed, thus he finds no point in the tragedy and life risk of war. Desmond (adult played by Andrew Garfield) and his brother decide to enlist, while Howard does it a more conventional way. This predicament wedges hate and strife between the boys and their father. Soon, Desmond visits the hospital, saving a man’s life after he was crushed by a car, and meets a nurse, Dorothy Schute (Theresa Palmer) promising to marry her before he leaves for war. Desmond hopes to be a medic and signs up.

The next scene we find Desmond in that expected training camp, being bossed around by a nothing other than a strict sergeant (Vince Vaughn), whom soon finds out that Desmond refuses to carry a firearm, since he doesn’t believe in taking another’s life. During the time of this war, it would be expected of every man to be able to bare arms, considering they were fighting others. For Desmond to stand up against the one thing used to kill, was an act of defiance and standing for what he believed moral and committed himself to that. This earns him a label and the men around him don’t expect him to survive or save others, if he’s supposed to be a medic. Other than he knows at the moment, Desmond will join the battle at Hacksaw Ridge, a 400 ft. wall that they must climb in order to destroy their enemy at the top.

Mel Gibson has always been the one to draw heroism from a story, such as the depiction of Passion of The Christ which earned it’s R rating from it’s brutal crucifixion of Christ on the cross. He really captures the aspect of war reality, and this film is more than real-looking. The first half of this locks you on the plot line and you feel for the characters. Many of the battle sequences look a little bit like some of the sequences in Saving Private Ryan. Andrew Garfield, who fell of the Spider Man project joined the cast, and nailed the lead role (besides his sometimes shaky accent). Theresa Palmer also is that “love waiting at home”. Other than being the reason Desmond to come home, her character doesn’t do much else, which is fine, considering she lacks acting assurance. This movie doesn’t shy from lots of gore and bullets hitting flesh, explosions, bodies everywhere and a grotesque depiction of war. Not for the faint hearted. I found myself looking away at brief times, especially the part where a soldier picks up half of a man and uses him as a shield.  It follow the closest accuracy in two hours, trying to include the details in the original story. I was especially in love with the cinematography and moments of silence, when they weren’t out there slaying the enemies. As of biopics, this one is in line with Deepwater Horizon and Sully. Gibson used his skills to make this one a realistic view of one of the bloodiest battles and true heroism. Desmond went on to save over 75 men, without firing/holding a gun.  

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