Hacksaw Ridge is based on the true story of an american army medic in WWII named Desmond Doss who refused to kill. Mel Gibson directs this true tale of a man that had shown incredible bravery and how he came to be in a place described as hell on earth.
Andrew Garfield Stars as Private Doss, a conscientious objector who vows never to pick up a gun but doesn’t want to sit at home while everyone dies for him. Garfield puts in a great performance as a man with strong beliefs and the will to help his fellow solders.
The first of this film focuses on the upbringing of Desmond Doss and his brother Hal as well as his growing relationship with Dorothy Schutte (Teresa Palmer). Hugo weaving does a great job as the violent drunken father who survived the brutal great war. This may all be a bit cliché but it serves a purpose by helping us understand the main character.
The second act of the film moves the action onto the training barracks when we meet the unit. There is some great comedy and a brilliant performance here from Vince Vaughn who somewhat steals the show. One of the units most interesting characters was Smitty (Luke Bracey), he played a typical tough guy that challenged Doss and his beliefs.
One of the most emotional moments in the film came at the end of act two when Doss was up for court marshal. The interaction between Hugo weaving’s character and the court was brilliant to watch and set up act three brilliantly. From there the unit were whisked away to Hacksaw Ridge and it wasn’t long before we got a glimpse of what was to come.
As you might expect the third and final act focuses on the battle for Hacksaw Ridge and while I know something about this period of history I was not prepared for how quickly the action descended into chaos. Bodies dropped left right and centre as they pushed on and on as we saw heroic acts to kill while Doss desperately tried to save.
The fighting ends just as quickly as it erupted and what we are left with is a sense of unease. Smitty and Doss head off into the night to do what they can and end up having a great conversation. While it shows just how far they have both come it also highlights they unease they must have been feeling by making us share that same feeling.
The subsequent retreat only helps to ramp up the tension with many more shot dead or grievously wounded. Doss does an incredible job of saving lives, utilising inventive methods to save as many as he can. Both the audience and the characters on screen were inspired by the heroic actions of Doss who would ask god each time he saved a life to help him save just one more.
The final push from the Americans had a vastly different tone to the one that had gone before. Despite the danger it felt somewhat heroic, like their mission had been blessed. For the most part the Japanese were a faceless enemy but this final sequence did at least give us a sense of their character, you just have to remember that this sense is from the perspective of Mel Brooks.
Hacksaw Ridge actually surprised me, I was expecting a generic war film and came away with an heroic story full of incredible performances. Each act had a part to play and I thought that the ending worked really well, if you are looking for a good film to watch in the cinemas right now then I would definitely recommend this film.