“I don’t know how I am going to live with myself if I don’t stay true to what I believe,” says Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) to his fiancé Dorothy Schutte (Teresa Palmer) as he waits to go on trial for insubordination and refusing a direct order from a military superior in the WWII historical drama, Hacksaw Ridge.
Desmond Doss is a young man who lives with his family and has fallen head over heels for a lovely young nurse named Dorothy in the early days of WWII. After his older brother signs up and most of the young men in his town have gone off to fight in the war, Desmond believes he must join the Army and serve his country. However, even though he believes the war is to stop evil, as a devout Christian he believes that killing is wrong. Still determined to do his part in the war, Doss joins the Army as a conscientious objector and trains as a medic to save lives on the battlefield.
When he gets to boot camp and refuses to handle a rifle, he becomes the target of his superiors’ derision and the men in his unit wonder if he’s just a coward. After taking a severe beating from some of the men and forced to do extra KP duty, Doss, who puts up with it all, begins to earn the respect of his fellow soldiers and his sergeant. When he refuses to handle a weapon after a superior officer orders him to, he’s brought up on charges. It’s his father (Hugo Weaving), who served and lost all of his childhood friends in WWI, who calls in a favor to a high ranking general that gets Doss his title as conscientious objector and the charges withdrawn.
Doss goes with his company to Okinawa as an Army medic and during one of the bloodiest battles ever fought in WWII, single-handedly evacuates the wounded from behind enemy lines while never carrying a rifle or firing off a shot. Doss saves 75 men, tending to their wounds and removing them from harm’s way while being shot at and hit by snipers. He’s the first conscientious objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
Directed by Mel Gibson and based on a true story, Hacksaw Ridge is a powerful, incredibly violent, gripping, and inspirational film that captures the brutality and horrors of war while also revealing one man’s struggle and determination to be true to his faith, morals, and fellow man. Put simply, it’s a tremendous cinematic achievement.
Andrew Garfield delivers the best performance of his career as Desmond T. Doss, a young man who desperately wants to serve his country but believes killing is wrong. He shows Doss’ quiet and friendly side, especially when he’s courting his girl, Dorothy. Garfield also brings to life his inner strength and convictions as evidenced in the scenes in which he’s first bullied by his men in boot camp and when he’s out on the battlefield ducking machine gun fire and working his way over to the helplessly wounded. It’s an incredibly well-balanced and effective performance. In addition, Garfield has solid chemistry with Teresa Palmer as Dorothy, the love of his life.
Mel Gibson proves once again how talented a director he truly is, bringing to the screen one of the most riveting and thoughtful war stories in decades. Well-crafted with a very talented cast delivering strong performances, solid writing, shocking, brutal, and realistic war scenes, haunting images, an engrossing soundtrack, and perfectly paced, Hacksaw Ridge is a tremendous cinematic experience. It’s an unforgettable story of courage and being true to oneself, and one of the best pictures of the year. Don’t miss it.
MPAA Rating: R for intense prolonged realistically graphic sequences of war violence including grisly bloody images
Running Time: 131 minutes
Release Date: November 4, 2016