‘Help me get one more…’
Normally, when I finish watching a film, I immediately take to my laptop and spew forth pithy one liners that aren’t anywhere near as clever as I think they are. Because I am arrogant enough to believe that I have the right to critique lots of different art forms, despite never having contributed anything remotely artistic to the world, I often compose reviews in my head while watching movies, so I am able to type something up within about twenty minutes. After the credits rolled on Hacksaw Ridge however, I stared at a blank page for a full ten minutes and for once I couldn’t think of a single damn thing to say…
Desmond Doss served as a medic in WWII and became the first recipient of the medal of honour without ever firing a shot. Hacksaw Ridge is his story and it is told beautifully by director Mel Gibson, or to quote from South Park ‘Say what you want about Mel Gibson, but the son of a bitch knows story structure’.
I was mostly left staring at a blank page following Hacksaw Ridge because I was overawed by Doss’ story for it is truly jaw dropping. I also found it difficult as I had prepared nothing during the film because I was so engrossed in the story. It has been a long time since I found myself so thoroughly involved in a feature length film (as opposed to say a TV series).
Aside from Gibson’s assured direction and the incredible subject matter, Hacksaw Ridge massively benefits from a lack of A listers. Sure Andrew Garfield is pretty much a household name but Gibson relies on actors rather than stars and this is reflected in a series of charged and believable performances. This is the first time I have ever enjoyed Sam Worthington in anything and Hugo Weaving also delivers in an unfamiliar role. I’m also a firm supporter of Vince Vaughn’s slow transition into a serious actor, although he does raise the biggest laughs here with his Full Metal Jacket homage.
Make no mistake though, this is Garfield’s film. I have followed the British actors career from his very earliest roles and to see him give such a nuanced, compelling and complete performance is truly joyous. He does justice to an unbelievable story and there is no greater praise than that.
Much has been made of the amount of blood and guts throughout Hacksaw Ridge but to focus on that seems churlish and odd. It is completely necessary in order to realistically portray war and never feels gratuitous. Hacksaw Ridge is so much more than just guns and fighting. It is a story that runs the full gamut of human emotion and I dare anyone to watch it and not be moved.
To conclude I really loved Hacksaw Ridge. Possibly the best war movie since Saving Private Ryan.