Saturday, May 06, 2017

Hacksaw Ridge: A Brutal War Film Honestly Honoring an American War Hero

Movie Review: Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
Version: Library Borrow

Steel yourself for one brutal movie in Hacksaw Ridge, the telling of the true story of World War II Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, a conscientious objector who insisted on serving his country in war but refused to carry a gun.

In doing so, Doss singlehandedly carried 75 wounded soldiers to safety one evening during the Battle of Okinawa. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his incredible bravery, putting his own life at risk during constant Japanese attack. In this case, the honest brutality of this film is earned and necessary to show what Doss and his fellow soldiers endured. I promise you, you will appreciate the thoroughness with which this story is shown and you will be amazed at Doss's singular bravery and unswerving courage.

In addition, the film explores Doss's earlier life to explain why he became a conscientious objector, as well as his treatment during basic training by his fellow soldiers and officers, who originally thought him a coward. He was even put in military jail and faced court martial for refusing to touch a weapon when ordered. However, Doss was persistent in wanting to serve his nation by saving lives instead of taking them.

Doss is played by Andrew Garfield, who was nominated for an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role. Rounding out the notables in the cast include Hugo Weaving, who played his father, Sam Worthington, who played his captain, and Vince Vaughn, who played his sergeant. Their work in this film was grueling and their portrayals masterful. In particular, this was a very different kind of role for Vince Vaughn, who usually plays comedic roles. In this film, he had to play the tough drill sergeant as well as the combat leader. Garfield was well-nominated for the Oscar.

Hacksaw Ridge was directed by Mel Gibson, who never holds nothing back in his depictions of gory battle scenes. So it was with this film. He was nominated for an Oscar for direction and Hacksaw Ridge was nominated for Best Picture. Alas, not one of these nominations won. The winners for this film were for technical achievements: Film Editing and Sound Mixing. Those are great awards and well earned, but in my estimation, the others deserved wins, too.

Who should see Hacksaw Ridge? Anyone who appreciates personal sacrifice, moral courage, valor, persistence, and love of humanity. But, of course, anyone who is squeamish about watching people shot, bloodied, bludgeoned, and blown to bits should probably skip this movie. It's graphic! The entire 2 hours and 19 minutes isn't all bloody hell, but a good half of it is. But this film honors the self-sacrifice of Desmond Doss and to do it, his story must show what that sacrifice meant, and that means being as honest to the truth as Doss was. There's no sugar coating in this film.

My recommendation is, see Hacksaw Ridge if you can take it. If for no other reason than to honor the selfless American war hero that was Desmond Doss.

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