Hacksaw Ridge is the most recent directorial effort from Academy Award winning director Mel Gibson, following his popular and praised Apocalypto. This film stars Andrew Garfield as Desmond Doss- a young man living in Virginia when WWII stars. As a kid, he realized the capacity of evil that man has when he accidentally hurts his brother with a brick- and nearly kills him. Because of this, he hates violence, and later promises his God that he will never even touch a gun. However, with his strong morality and passion for doing good and helping others, he enlists to join the army and fight in the war… becoming one of the greatest soldiers that the world has ever seen, without ever firing a single bullet.
From the very first trailer, I was hooked. Hell, the 2 minute trailer made me tear up… which is quite the promise to make an audience member. Needless to say, my expectations were sky-high when I walked in, and they were exceeded still. It’s no secret to those around me that I’m not the biggest fan of war films in general- I often think that they are very similar and it really takes a lot to impress me in that genre (I could take or leave Full Metal Jacket, Black Hawk Down, etc… sorry). This film, on the other hand, did a LOT that I just had never seen in a film about war… it gave me a character that I could 100% get behind because of his motivations, personality, and relationships with other characters. This may sound strange, but this is my new favorite superhero movie (haha), I mean Desmond Doss saved more lives than Superman, and is a better character than any of the desperately flawed heroes in DC/Marvel films. This aspect of the film is partly what made it so unique and interesting to me; we see so many war films with battle sequences, but never like this, and never with a hero like Desmond. There are aspects of this film that are borderline horror because of how scary they are, and having a character that we love so much who puts himself in these situations makes this very difficult to watch at times.
One aspect of the film that hooked me immediately was the love story. Andrew Garfield and Teresa Palmer had undeniable chemistry, and although I wish I could have seen more of them together (especially at the end), I was blown away by what I DID see, and I could only ask for more of them together. Doss’ relationship with his family was slightly more complicated, but just as impressively handled. His father fought in the first World War, and now is an angry and lonely alcoholic. In this way, Desmond saw exactly the kind of person that he did not want to me, and vowed to be the person to help and not hurt those around him. His motivation for joining was based, in part, by all of those around him having fought, or going to fight, for their country- and he did not want to be the person sitting in safety on the other side of the ocean. Again, however, I just wish I could have seen more of him and his father towards the end of the film.
My favorite part of the film was how real everything felt- I have not fought in the military because I do not support the killing of others, but I did feel like I was right there with the characters at all times during the fighting. There were many, many intense moments that kept me on the edge of my seat when Desmond was running from soldier to soldier, dodging bullets and risking his life over and over again just to save theirs. It’s really a beautiful film in this way, and as this movie puts you right in the action, it also puts you right in the drama, and the romance, and the laughs… and because of all that, I was on the edge of tears for the majority of the run time. I never checked the time on my phone, and I never got bored or tired. If you want a film that will keep you hooked until the closing credits- this is the film for you.
Again, the only part of this film that I didn’t love as much as the rest was the ending. Yes, because this magnificent film ended, but also because I feel that it didn’t give me all that I wanted to see as the film drew to a close… I wanted it to tie together more of the strings that it let loose at the beginning: his relationships with his family and with his girlfriend, Dorothy. I think that seeing their reactions to him becoming this major war hero would have been good to see, especially as his father was so against his family joining since he lost so many friends in the war… and now that Desmond has saved countless lives, I think his father would now be proud instead of full of contempt, but we never see this reaction.
Overall, this film is an absolute-must see, and it doesn’t do a single thing that I didn’t love- I can only ask for more from the movie of what it already gave us. Hacksaw Ridge is easily my favorite film of the year up to this point, and I cannot wait to see what this film does for Mel Gibson’s career, and Andrew Garfield’s as well. If you have not seen this film, please rush out to see it as soon as you get the chance, because it is an experience worth every penny. I’m going to give this film a 10/10, and a gold recommendation, and I cannot wait to watch it again. As always, thank you so much for reading, and let me know what you think about this film! I’ll see you soon!