Movie Review – ‘Hacksaw Ridge’

“Mel Gibson is back!  The most intense, shocking big-screen battle since “Saving Private Ryan”, this faith-based film compromises neither true events nor one’s religious spirit in telling its powerful story.”

-Patrick King, REEL BRIEF.com

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Not since chaos ensued hitting Omaha Beach in 1998’s Saving Private Ryan have movie-goers been left so exposed and defenseless watching bullets fly and magazines emptied on the battlefield. An epic war film where true carnage and trauma was presented raw and without any punches pulled for viewers’ sake. However, whereas Saving Private Ryan is still one of the most intense, heart-pounding opening scenes in movie history, Hacksaw Ridge uses its equally violent battle scenes just as effectively, only saving them for the latter half of this new World War II film.

Returning to the director’s chair for the first time in ten years, Academy Award winner Mel Gibson (Braveheart) passionately presents the true story of Medal of Honor recipient, Corporal Desmond Doss. A native of Lynchburg, Virginia, and with strong religious feelings, Doss enlists in the U.S. Army during the Second World War wanting to do his part to serve the nation. His only stipulation is that his work on the battlefield be an instrument focused solely towards saving lives versus taking a life.

Gibson astutely keeps Hacksaw Ridge about the faith, family and fearless determination of a young man unwilling to compromise on his religious beliefs…regardless of the personal cost to him.  Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man) confidently exudes the patience and tenacity of the stubborn Doss, taking on an abusive father and the U.S. Army during this explosive journey.

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As Doss’ rifle company sets its sights on Objective: Hacksaw Ridge–a sheer cliff with hundreds of Japanese soldiers waiting atop–viewers become keenly aware of film’s most inspiring costar…God.  Stuffed inside the uniform chest-pocket of Doss, his Bible quietly instills strength and trust in not only Doss but also his entire group of infantrymen over time.

His faith painfully challenged during boot camp and at his Courts Martial trial, Doss’ religious views provide him with a direction to act, even when others couldn’t.  At the Battle of Okinawa, his heroism against the backdrop of gruesome fighting, commands attention and earns the respect and support from others by his side.

Soldiers going into battle want the odds stacked unfairly in their favor: Force multipliers such as technology, air power from above. Perhaps even better, higher terrain to fight from.  Or, maybe, a brave soul–touched by God—that is still standing after an onslaught of high-caliber bullets, grenades and flamethrower attacks are leveled by the enemy.

Mel Gibson is back!  The most intense, shocking big-screen battle since Saving Private Ryan, this faith-based film compromises neither true events nor one’s religious spirit in telling its powerful story.  Hacksaw Ridge squarely showcases how one’s inner strength and personal courage challenged and changed others’ minds, later earning their admiration and this nation’s highest military honor.

Following its debut in September at the Venice Film Festival, Hacksaw Ridge received a 10-minute standing ovation.  A well-deserved ten-minute honor for a man who saved many lives—without taking one.

Grade: A

“Hacksaw Ridge” is rated R for intense, prolonged realistically graphic sequences of war violence, including grisly bloody images.  Its running time is 2 hours and 19 minutes.

© 2016, Patrick. All rights reserved.



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