Hacksaw Ridge review: Andrew Garfield, take a bow!


Mel Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge comes a decade after his last, Apocalypto. It stands in the league of Braveheart and Passion of the Christ, because of the gory violence and righteous heroes. The story is based on real life US army veteran Desmond Doss, who saved lives on the battlefield despite never having to pick up a gun.

The film portrays Doss as a religious young man with a deep spiritual persona, was compassionate, soft-spoken and calm. As a teen, he staves off his abusive father (Hugo Weaving) by threatening him with a gun. Overwhelmed with guilt, Doss vows that he would never touch a gun again. It marks the beginning of his journey into the hero he was to become one day, on a high cliff called the Hacksaw Ridge in Okinawa, near Japan.

When the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, he feels a longing to serve in the army, and signs up to be a medic. During boot camp training, he is ridiculed, even bullied for his stance, seen as both peculiar and cowardly. He is charged with insubordination for refusing to carry a gun, and manages to avoid a court martial by stating that he intends to save lives, not kill.

It's in the second half of the film that the pace picks up, and we experience the true Gibson spirit.

The US army has to capture Hacksaw Ridge, which will give them passage to Okinawa and eventually other islands. But, the ridge is deadly, inhabited by large numbers of Japanese troops hiding underground.

As American troops climb up a rope ladder to the top of Hacksaw, Doss tags along, carrying bandages and morphine shots. The battle is brutal for both sides of the army, and Gibson doesn't spare viewers of its gory mess. There are severed limbs, puddles of blood, rats feeding on corpses, and human beings reduced to smoking meat.

Doss's true heroism doesn't show until the last hour of the war epic, when the American troops retreat following retaliation. About 30 men come back down alive, while hundreds are either dead or half-dead on the top of the ridge. Only Doss stays up there, unable to leave the injured unattended. So, starts his routine: finding injured men, telling them that they will be alright, carrying them to the edge of the cliff, lowering them down with a rope using his bare hands, and then saying, “Please Lord, let me get one more.” He does this all night, with no one to cover for him. He even helps a few wounded Japanese soldiers, because the life of a person means more to him than which side they are on.

Garfield's portrayal of Doss is one of his finest in recent times. He excels in the war scenes especially, playing a man who sticks to his non-violent convictions, despite the fear and hostility that underscores kill-or-die circumstances. Vince Vaughn's performance as Sergeant Howell is another one to look out for, as well as Sam Worthington as Captain Glover, who bullies Doss.

The film doesn't disappoint, and might be Gibson's best after The Passion of the Christ. It follows the typical Gibson film arc, with the noble protagonist emerging as a saviour. The gore is likely to make one sick in the gut, but a Gibson fan wouldn't give this film a pass.

Film: Hacksaw Ridge
Director: Mel Gibson
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughn, Teresa Palmer, Luke Bracey, Hugo Weaving, Sam Worthington
Rating: 3.5/5

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Topics : #Hollywood

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