“Hacksaw Ridge” is directed by Mel Gibson and stars Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer, Sam Worthington, and Vince Vaughn. The movie is based on the true story of Desmond Doss, a World War II medic who became the first Conscientious Objector to receive the Medal of Honor for his service in the Battle of Okinawa.
This is Gibson’s first film back in the director’s chair since 2006’s “Apocalypto”, and it looked to be a potential awards contender. The true story, along with a solid cast and a very intriguing trailer had me very excited to see what Gibson could do with this movie.
Andrew Garfield is excellent in the lead role of this film, as he displays tremendous moments of drama and heart throughout numerous scenes. Garfield really brings home this character of Doss and makes him someone we can really follow the mind of, and, while sometimes you may not agree with him, you certainly can understand considering his situation. Garfield does some really great work here, and between this and his role later this year in Martin Scorsese’s “Silence”, you can bet you will hear his name buzzed about for some awards.
Teresa Palmer was very good in this movie, as she continues to move in the right direction after that putrid film, “The Choice”. Palmer is solid as Doss’ love interest, doing exactly what she needs to do to bring some emotion and to be more motivation for Doss to do right in this world. Sam Worthington was also very good in his supporting role as Captain Glover, as I found him the most believable, and the most accurate of the major military men in this film.
The action scenes are beautifully directed by Gibson here, with each and every brutal moment that takes place at Hacksaw Ridge being as tense as the other. The way Gibson jumps back and forth from the people on the front lines to Doss trying to save those people who need it is done excellently, and the action is shot in a way that is clear, while also visceral so that you feel like you are right in the moment.
There are moments, specifically due to Garfield’s performance, that had some real emotion behind them. While may of these do take place on the battlefield, there are scenes with his family and in the camps that really made me feel for this character, and I was impressed by how much Garfield sold these emotions throughout the film.
On occasion, Gibson would get a bit over the top with some drama or with some action moments in the movie, and these scenes took me out of the moment for the time being. These scenes just felt out of the place and made the plot feel a bit cheesy, which took away from the realism that much of this movie looks to strive for. These instances could just be some convenient timing or with some cheesy bits of dialogue, and, while I get that true stories need to have some flair added to them to make the movie more entertaining, a couple times there was just a bit too much flare added.
While most of the cast was very good, I could not get on board with Vince Vaughn as Sergeant Howell. I have to respect when comedic actors move more towards some dramatic roles, Chris Rock did it superbly while also blending comedy in 2014’s “Top Five”, but I just do not see Vaughn in this role. Vaughn, while comical for sure, just is not intimidating, and that is a major part of his character that just feels like it’s missing.
While I think that showing Doss’ family life is very important to the story, I was not a fan of the execution. There are some pieces where I felt some impact, but mostly I felt the introduction to be rather slow, and rather cheesy, and by the end of it Doss’ family life still wasn’t all that clear to me, and I think that is something that could have been dramatically improved.
“Hacksaw Ridge” is an entertaining, sometimes very impactful film with a powerhouse performance by Andrew Garfield, and some real, gritty action sequences. While it may not be as beautifully executed as I had hoped, and there are certainly flaws that make the movie a bit too cheesy, “Hacksaw Ridge” does right of its excellent true story, and is one that I certainly had a good time watching.
Are you excited for “Hacksaw Ridge”? Comment below with what you think.