Hacksaw Ridge is a film that I’ve been meaning to see for quite sometime now. The first time I saw its trailer, I made a mental note to put this movie on my must-watch list.
Fortunately, I had the opportunity to enjoy an advanced screening of Hacksaw Ridge just recently together with my wife and a couple of friends.
I love war movies. Especially those that are set during World War II. The gritty, gory and intense ground battles, especially when depicted unapologetically, make for one very real and in-your-face retelling. But another reason why I was drawn to this film is because of the stars involved in it — Andrew Garfield, Hugo Weaving, Vince Vaughn and Sam Worthington. Apart from that, Mel Gibson, who happens to be an amazing actor himself, is the motion picture’s director. And given how “The Passion of the Christ” was so amazingly directed, I had very high hopes for Hacksaw Ridge.
And hey… for what it’s worth, Hacksaw Ridge was also an opportunity for me, in my mind, to finally detach Andrew Garfield from his previous role as Spiderman.
Hacksaw Ridge – Inspiringly intense!
Hacksaw Ridge is a true story that centers on combat medic and conscientious objector, Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield). Doss was a patriot who had immediately volunteered for military service right after the attack of the Japanese on Pearl Harbor. But here’s the catch… Doss’ Seventh Day Adventist convictions, not to mention his memories of abuse by his own father to his family, meant that he only wanted to be a medic heading out to Okinawa — during the bloodiest battle in WWII. That’s right. He refused to carry any kind of weapon into battle.
You’d probably think he’s crazy, right? Well, that’s exactly what Doss’ fellow soldier says after realizing that this guy is willing to go head on into the thick of the fight without a gun in hand. “I never claimed to be sane!”, Doss replies in jest.
This film does a very good job in building Doss’ character, as well as establishing the supporting cast that viewers will effortlessly come to love as the story progresses. It was also refreshing to see Vince Vaughn in a role that is totally different from the funny characters he usually plays. But, there are also many light scenes in Hacksaw Ridge that take advantage of his comedic wit. The movie also showcases a superb performance by Hugo Weaving who plays Desmond’s father, Tom, who is so traumatized by his service during World War I, that he strongly forbids his son to enlist.
While a good early chunk of Hacksaw Ridge is beautifully spent introducing characters and establishing critical plot points, it is the second half of the story that really punches you in the gut and grips you when this motion picture kicks into sudden overdrive as Gibson captures arguably the most brutal screen carnage ever seen since Saving Private Ryan.
The very intense battle scenes in this film, and believe me… there are MANY of them, are beautifully shot in the sense that it takes the viewer right into the midst of battle. The excessive violence shown in Hacksaw Ridge which showcases a ton of blood and guts clearly contrasts Doss’ choice of non-violence.
After the smoke has cleared, Private First Class Desmond Doss was able to save 75 men without firing or carrying a gun to battle. In fact, he was the only American soldier in World War II to fight on the front lines without a single weapon since he believed that while the war was justified, killing was nevertheless wrong. As an army medic, he single-handedly evacuated the wounded from behind enemy lines, braved fire while tending to soldiers, and was wounded by a grenade and hit by snipers.
Doss was the first conscientious objector to ever earn the Congressional Medal of Honor for rescuing many wounded comrades from a heavily defended Maeda Escarpment, nicknamed “Hacksaw Ridge”.
In my opinion, Hacksaw Ridge is perhaps one of the best Second World War films in quite a while. I mean, there have been quite a number of standout war movies that have come our way in the past few years… but none as gritty, emotionally charged and equally powerful as this.
Hacksaw Ridge Oscar nominations
This beautiful film has already garnered a significant number of citations and recognitions from various award-giving bodies. And just recently, the Oscars has also announced that Hacksaw Ridge has received nominations in the following categories:
Best Motion Picture of the Year
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Best Achievement in Directing
Best Achievement in Film Editing
Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
Best Achievement in Sound Editing
Hacksaw Ridge is one extraordinary motion picture that, through the conflict of Christianity and brutal carnage, becomes the ultimate test of one’s faith. It is an incredible story of redemption that inspires and moves just as much as the movie’s intense and horrific depiction of war will undoubtedly make you cringe and flinch.
If you had to choose just one film that would be well worth your while, it most definitely has to be Hacksaw Ridge. You need not take my word for it. The list of awards and nominations for this movie alone should already be enough to convince you to make time for this masterpiece.
Hacksaw Ridge is a true story of unwavering faith and immeasurable love, put to the test in the midst of terrible conflict. Truly a must-watch.
Hacksaw Ridge is now showing in cinemas. Don’t miss it.
Photos courtesy of Columbia Pictures.