Director Mel Gibson has had a long history with war films and usually his filmwork resonates a real passion. Does Hacksaw Ridge measure up to Gibson's previous work? Click through for my full review of the film.
The battle sequences and the authentic nature of Gibson's film coverage makes this movie a real gem. The brutality of war and the constant barrage of violent interactions comes across as horrific and honest. The fluid movement of the assault on Hacksaw Ridge are beautifully captured by DP Simon Duggan. The pacing matches his best work, The Great Gatsby, but the brutal blood showcased harps to Mel Gibson's previous work. The training elements in the first half of the film also are nicely shot. Overall the cinematography is great and the film's highlights all surround the real war elements captured. The visual and emotional punch of the real story and Duggan/Gibson's cinematic look are worth the price of admission.
The male cast connect pretty easily and work well off Andrew Garfield's portrayal of Desmond Doss. Teresa Palmer's performance is where the film really makes it's mark. Without her performance it's hard to have sympathy for the sacrifice of Doss. But the real life love story captured in Hacksaw is as compelling and moving. Garfield and Palmer are nicely matched and work well off each other. Vince Vaughn's humorous hard ass character of Sergeant Howell is one of the most gratifying. The training elements are his playground and when the later half of war scenes take over we're fully connected to Howell's importance to the plot. Lastly, Hugo Weaving gives one of the more delicate performances and his small redemption sequence is one of the film's best moments. Overall the acting (mostly Aussies) is spot on and you can see each actor took their role seriously.
The emotional battle of whether to kill is necessary for every person in war is important to understanding the place for this film. It does seem overtly relevant in our current military world that sees war as more technological and distant. To see the courage of Desmond Doss when war meant face-to-face battle is extremely moving. Hacksaw Ridge is a film that comes across as honest and truthful and begs the audience to debate it's merit with those elements intact. The film will move you and make you look deeper into what war is about and why we fight…or don't fight.