From the moment Hacksaw Ridge begins, the audience is thrown into the middle of a battle. Soldiers from both sides are screaming at each other in fear, rage or pain. The scene is horrible to behold as men tear each other apart with mortars, bullets, knives and even their fists. However, and this may sound strange, the violence and chaos on-screen is beautiful to witness.
Whatever his personal problems, Hacksaw Ridge makes it clear that Mel Gibson knows how to direct a movie. The film takes the time to cultivate the characters while the battle sequences are masterfully shot. These action sequences showcase the brutality of war, but the clarity and style are reminiscent of a Renaissance painting.
Andrew Garfield‘s performance as Desmond Doss is a wonderful display of bravura. Doss is a man who swears-off violence but has the courage to volunteer during the war. While his religious views are a little extreme, it’s easy to admire his bravery and tenacity in the face of adversity.
Hacksaw Ridge does a great job of balancing both sides of the issue created by Desmond’s refusal to wield a weapon. The commanding officers are understandably concerned about letting a man walk onto a battlefield without the tools to defend himself. Despite all the pressure, Doss refuses to buckle, and the fact that there is a place for him in the military is admirable.
Overall, Hacksaw Ridge is an unqualified success, a film on the level of war movies like Saving Private Ryan and The Big Red One. Gibson cements his directorial bona fides with a movie that boasts heart-racing action sequences and quiet tender moments. The cast shines through repeatedly from Teresa Palmer‘s strength as Desmond’s wife to Hugo Weaving as Desmond’s alcoholic father. It’s been a while since I’ve gotten choked up during a movie which speaks volumes about the quality of Hacksaw Ridge.