Hacksaw Ridge: Mel Gibson Returns to Direct Moving War Drama
The true story of Desmond Doss – a conscientious objector who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his selfless contribution in the WWII’s infamous battle of Okinawa – comes to life in one of the most anticipated returns of the year, seeing that the film is directed by the one and only Mel Gibson, in the visually stunning, mercilessly blood and utterly moving, Hacksaw Ridge.
The story is centred on Desmond T. Doss (Garfield); a young man who grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia in a working-class Christian family with an abusive alcoholic father, Tom (Weaving). Having grown up into a kind, responsible and a religious young man, Desmond soon falls for Dorothy; a young nurse who is instantly taken by his unassuming ways and the couple soon gets engaged to be married.
However, before they are able to take their vows, Desmond decides to enlist in the army as he is unable to sit back and watch while his fellow men fight for their country. Joining with the intention of serving as a medic, Desmond – a devout Seventh-day Adventist – is quick to take a proud stand as a conscientious objector; a decision, which naturally puts him at odds with his supervisors, Howell (Vaughn) and Glover (Worthington). Having endured a gruesome hazing period, Desmond’s faith is soon put to the test when his unit is deployed to the island of Okinawa, where they are tasked with an almost impossible mission of taking the gruelling frontline known as Hacksaw Ridge.
It’s been ten years since Mel Gibson was last seen behind the camera and the two-time Oscar winner shows no sign of rust – o the contrary, Gibson’s strong return to the silver screen proves that he is still a quite a skilled storyteller. He spends the first half of the movie establishing base and allowing the audiences to get to know Desmond before eventually diving headfirst into the second half where an impressively ruthless and gory depiction of war awaits.
Notorious for his love of graphic imagery and R-rated violence, Gibson doesn’t shy away from the carnage in what proves to be one of the most harrowing battle scene sequences since Saving Private Ryan. Ensuring that each frame is given its own importance, the attention to detail is sublime with cinematographer, Simon Duggan, making sure that the audiences are able to keep up with the piling bodies and flying bullets at all times.
Garfield’s casting raised a few eyebrows, but the young British actor gives his character a self-effacing appeal and quiet determination that ensures the audience is on his side from the start.
Despite on-the-nose religious imagery and undertones, Gibson delivers a grisly and moving cinematic experience; but deep at the heart Hacksaw Ridge are universal messages of courage, belief and a relieving return for the controversial Gibson.