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Review: Hacksaw Ridge

Andrew Garfield stars in Lionsgate's HACKSAW RIDGE

How much violence do you want in your war movies? Well, if you want something with an insane amount, look no further than Hacksaw Ridge. This Mel Gibson directed picture promises blood, gore and mayhem with a man of faith who never resorts to violence at the center of it all. It’s an interesting concept for a film, but it’s also based on a true story that doesn’t get a great deal of attention.

Featuring the central story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), Hacksaw Ridge is about war in a way that no other film is about war. Doss was one of many soldiers who went over to Okinawa during World War II. What separated him from everyone else was that he was the first and only soldier there to fight on the front lines without a weapon since he believed that killing was wrong even during a war that he saw as justifiable. For years, many saw him as a coward for his refusal to take up arms, but the film about his life strongly argues otherwise.

I can’t say for sure how much of Hacksaw Ridge is real. I guess I could do more research about it to find out what actually happened, but then again, I don’t feel it’s digging into more is all that necessary for me. Regardless of how much is fact and how much is fiction, we do know that Desmond Doss went out into the battlefield without a weapon and managed to assist in saving 75 men. What condition they were in and how he saved them will remain a mystery to me, but his feats are impressive no matter what.

This doesn’t have a ton of issues, but one of the problems lies in Hacksaw Ridge is the unnecessary love story that we’re introduced to at the start. Instead of this portion of the film being a heartwarming character builder, it serves as nothing more than a waste of time. What’s seen here isn’t something that’s even needed since we’re supposed to be watching a story about a man who went to fight for his country without using a single weapon. Sticking to that and showing why he believes in it is enough to make a compelling feature.

One of the things that we all expect to see in any war film is violence. In this picture, viewers are baring witness to an extreme level of violence than they have probably ever seen in any war film that came before it. The graphic nature may catch some by surprise, but it’s obvious that showing the brutalities of war is important here. Mix that in with a man who refuses to fire a gun and you have a striking contrast that can work in multiple ways.

While the violence is insanely brutal once introduced, some of it has a difficult time holding up due to some of the CGI effects looking a bit too animated. It doesn’t ruin the experience as a whole, but it does manage to take you out of what’s being shown just a bit at times. With that being the case, some of the other scenes of war do a nice job of balancing that stuff out. That way, you’re still able to feel the struggle of war from a more fundamental perspective.

Hacksaw Ridge is by no means a perfect film, but what’s included gives the people who want to see it an opportunity to leave the theaters satisfied with what they’ve just watched. It’s a rare story these days because its focus is on faith, strength and patriotism just as much as it is about the bloodshed resulting from the combat on World War II battlefields. From that standpoint, its tale of heroism serves its ultimate purpose.

Rating: R

Director: Mel Gibson

Andrew Garfield
Sam Worthington
Luke Bracey
Teresa Palmer
Hugo Weaving
Rachel Griffiths
Vince Vaughn

Film Length: 130 minutes

Release Date: November 4, 2016

Distributor: Lionsgate

  • Score - 7/10
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