Directed by: Mel Gibson
Starring; Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey
My Rating: 9 out of 10
Mel Gibson has been on my good list lately After a wonderful portrayal in the movie “Blood Father”, he returns to the directors chair for this war time epic. Comparisons will be easily made with Saving Private Ryan and they are rather large soldiers boots to fill. Personally, I love a bit of history and I love a good movie so get this right, and I would be eating out of the palm of his Australian hands. Well, I have to say I hope his hands taste nice because this was brilliant!
The movie was like two halves, one half a poignant soft tale of a man growing up. It follows his story early where he is a disappointment to his drunken violent father, he becomes religious and holds the stern belief never to harm another man. Some people have mentioned the religious connotations within the movie as being overbearing, yet I would have to say they are integral to understanding this character and though I am not a religious man myself, it does not ever take away from my enjoyment of this film.
Despite his beliefs of never harming a man, following on from the devastation to his country in Pearl Harbour, he decides he must join the army with his fellow countrymen and believes he can do this as a medic, fixing people instead of hurting people and we follow his story right through his training, in boot camp where he is bullied and battered for refusing to pick up a gun.
It’s heartbreaking at times and Andrew Garfield, who plays lead role Desmond Doss, is fantastic in portraying this hard story on screen. There is a great balance of humour thrown on top of this first half too, Vince Vaughan’s roll call scene being a particular highlight and, I have to say, usually with war films they rush the first half so to get to the action faster, but Mel got this absolutely right. He grew the character cleverly before our eyes first. I have to say I enjoyed the first half immensely. It has love, sadness and humour and, in its own right, deserves to be heralded for the performances and direction. But clearly with any war film it will hinge on the war part so let's move to the second half of the flick, which doesn't disappoint in any aspect.
Garfield’s portrayal only grows and grows and it's hard to believe by the end of it that this is the same guy that managed to make Spiderman shite. He was truly mesmerising in this role, I was completely gripped and thankfully having not polished up on my history of American war heroes, I had no idea what would happen to him, making made it very exciting toward the end. Special mention must go to Gibson again here though as his direction of the battle of Hacksaw Ridge is one of the best things I have ever watched on screen. It is intense, limbs are flying everywhere, blood is spilling all around and I really did feel I had entered a war zone from the comfort of my chair. It made Saving Private Ryan look like a walk in the park.
Its realism was spell binding and it truly is edge of your seat action as you witness perhaps the best war action sequence ever performed for cinema. Never does it feel too much for me, it feels right. This was war. War is hell. And he brought that hell to our screens. The story itself is utterly breath taking too, as previously mentioned this is a story of a man in the army who refused to hold a gun, let alone fire one, the army had tried to savagely get rid of this man but he believed he was right and despite the beatings and bullying stuck to his principles, remained in the army and believed he could save lives in the intense heat of battle against some unbelievable odds. He managed to save the lives of 75 men, some of those men, the same men who had campaigned to get rid of him and it is truly a wonderful moment within this movie when you see those men realising how wrong they were about this true hero.
There are no gimmicks here like you get with your traditional superheroes. He can't fly and he can't turn back time, all he has his strong beliefs, a big heart and an unbelievable amount of bravery and it blows me away. This movie is an instant classic, it has just about everything you would want out of any movie, love, heartache, action and sentimentality. The respect Gibson pays to this story should be commended, his engagement and understanding of a true hero has served up this career best moment for him and the award nominations are rolling in. Long gone will be memories of that Beaver and here to stay will be a place for this film in the list of greats.