Hacksaw Ridge is the remarkable true story of the heroics of Desmond Doss during the Battle of Okinawa, a combat medic who refused to carry any kind of a weapon and was the only conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honour for service above and beyond the call of duty.
You don’t dare take your eyes off Hacksaw as it unleashes its graphic third act, an unapologetic, bloody, gripping spectacle with Andrew Garfield’s Desmond Doss racing through the horror of an Okinawan ridge, unarmed, tending to the wounded and pleading with God to help him get “one more” as he defies the odds to save as many lives as he possibly can.
Directed by Mel Gibson, and led by a tremendous Andrew Garfield in the lead role, Hacksaw is one hell of a ride.
While the structure of the story itself isn’t groundbreaking, for example, there’s particular story beats you can see coming a mile off – enemy turned friend, outcast turned hero – the way that it’s delivered and the content, especially during that third act, is something else.
[Garfield] nails every beat as he shifts from a picture of innocence and charm to that tenacious, courageous hero on the ridge, showing exactly why he was up for an Academy Award for this.
It’s anchored by Garfield as Doss, who is inherently likeable and easy to root for. He’s our hook. A devout Seventh-day Adventist, his refusal to stray from his beliefs – and eventual reasons behind them – are commendable, doubly so with is insistence that serving in war is the right thing to do rather than staying safe at home.
He nails every beat as he shifts from a picture of innocence and charm to that tenacious, courageous hero on the ridge, showing exactly why he was up for an Academy Award for this.
He’s supported by a really strong cast too, Teresa Palmer is delightful as Desmond’s love Dorothy, while Vince Vaughn is a scene stealer as Sergeant Howell. Luke Bracey, Sam Worthington, Hugo Weaving deserve mentions, as do a plethora of others.
It’s a smart script which, even if roles are small allows them to feel meaningful and to matter. Nobody feels wasted, even if this is undoubtedly Garfield’s show.
With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it don’t seem like such a bad thing to me to want to put a little bit of it back together.
While things end perhaps a little abruptly (especially when reading up on the actual story itself you see there could have been a little more material to run with), you’ve already been rendered open mouthed and inspired.
I mean, how can you not be inspired about an ordinary guy, sticking to what he believes in, standing up and doing something that goes beyond extraordinary?
Gibson and Garfield do justice to a remarkable story that deserves to be told and, if there’s anything to take away from Hacksaw, you probably can’t go far wrong with Desmond’s words when pleading his case to his superiors:
“With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it don’t seem like such a bad thing to me to want to put a little bit of it back together.”