By Eddy Montilla.
Directed by: Mel Gibson.
Written by: Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan.
MPAA R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.).
Starring: Andrew Garfield (as Desmond T. Doss), Hugo Weaving (as Tom Doss), Vince Vaughn (as Sergeant Howell), Sam Worthington (as Captain Glover), Matthew Nable (as Lt. Cooney)…
Running Time: 139 minutes.
Most of the war movies made every year are like a toilet roll: Important, but with dubious values. Among the few honorable exceptions that come to mind, I can cite All quiet on the Western Front (1930), The bridge on the river Kwai (1957), Schindler’s list (1993), Saving private Ryan (1998) and Letters from Iwo Jima (2006). Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge (2016) is fighting and winning its own war to be added to this list for Gibson’s ability to detect two different approaches, very little exploited in the genre of war, and master them in a remarkable way.
First: In an era of omnipotent superheroes, big macho men and stars with inexhaustible physical strength, Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), a conscientious objector, is a weak constitution soldier, to be more precise, the only unfit soldier in his unit for his refusal to shoot and hold a rifle, which turns him into the most likely candidate to be one of the first war dead in that combat. At the end, Doss showed to be the bravest man, a soldier who spent the night inside the enemy camp saving the lives of American combatants and even some Japanese soldiers too. His almost trademark expression: “Give me one more, Lord”, “One more”, referring to his plea for strength in order to rescue the wounded can make you shudder even if you boast about your impassive heart.
Second: A lot of movie directors have bared soldier’s feelings in the battlefield and have showed them trying to use their religious convictions as a shield or source of strength while they are killing paradoxically “the enemies”. We have also seen movies with pacifists looking for solutions to the conflict from a comfortable place out of the war zone. In Hacksaw Ridge (2016), you will see something completely different: Doss, a man whose integrity bind him to the idea of serving his country in the First World War in Okinawa and his faith in God bind him to the principle against killing another human being. During the film, Doss has to find a way to make both aspects coexist in harmony, not inside a church, but among bullets and flamethrowers.
Except for some excessive bloody scenes that can make some people squeamish and the last shots of Doss on a stretcher that made him look as the average mortal descending down the ridge first to show him as a mystic ascending into heaven later, I took off my hat to director Mel Gibson for being the creator of this work of art. As for Andrew Garfield’s performance, it was so good that the classic adjectives used to describe and qualify in these cases fall short. A great movie full of emotions that will keep your mouth open for almost two hours.
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