Saturday, May 13, 2017

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Director: Mel Gibson
Writers: Robert Schenkkan, Andrew Knight
DOP: Simon Duggan
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughn, Hugo Weaving, Sam Worthington, Teresa Palmer

WW2 American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), who served during the battle of Okinawa, has vowed to never take a weapon and kill people, and becomes the first man in American history to receive the medal of honor without firing a shot.

His choice of non-violence is due to religious reasons as a Seventh Day Adventist but he feels compelled to join the war effort as everyone around him is doing so. The first part of the film deals with his family background and his cheesy romance with a nurse from the military hospital. He joins the army but is faced with tremendous pressure to quit due to his refusal to pick up a rifle to do rifle training. He wears an extremely smug look that we are used to from evangelical folks and you feel like punching him in the face the same way his colleagues also do. He manages to pass the training with the help of a religious exception and has to assist his unit in taking over the 'Hacksaw Ridge' which is a very difficult target to achieve for the Americans.

Film is unique in the sense that it is told from the perspective of a medic which we are not very used to in war films. One which did do this before was the Band of Brothers episode 'Bastogne', which is also told from the perspective of a medic, and is incidentally my favorite episode of the series. The cheesiness of the first half of the film makes a weird sense by the end as the second half is just quite brutal warfare. It is a great watch overall with some great war scenes that can quite match Saving Private Ryan's first twenty minutes for intensity. The budget for the film was only $40 million and it looks much higher than that. Vince Vaughn is very good in his role as the sergeant and Hugo Weaving is great as the alcoholic ex-army man dad who doesn't want his sons to join the army. Many still cite Brave-Heart as Mel Gibson's best film and I haven't seen that one to make a comparison. The only other one I have seen of his is 'Passion of Christ', which I watched with my friends at the cinemas going to the next town, and I still can't figure out for the life of me why I did that. I am not generally a fan of actors becoming directors and find their efforts quite underwhelming. Hacksaw Ridge is certainly an exception.

Rating: 4/5