Director: Mel Gibson
Running Time: 139 Minutes
Main Cast: Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughn, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, Sam Worthington, Matt Nable
It has been a while since I have gone to the movies and been completely surprised with what I have seen. Mel Gibson’s World War II masterpiece, Hacksaw Ridge is one of those films.
Hacksaw Ridge focuses around the true story of Medic Private Desmond T. Doss who won a Congressional Medal of Honour, after he saved the lives of 75 men atop Hacksaw Ridge during the Battle of Okinawa. The extraordinary aspect of this story is not his heroism but rather his religious beliefs meant he was the only American Soldier to go into battle without a weapon, and that he didn’t fire a weapon through training either.
Hacksaw Ridge features well-known American stars in Andrew Garfield who is outstanding as Desmond Doss and Vince Vaughn as Bad-ass/take no shit from anyone Sargent Howle. But a majority of the cast is made up of Aussies attempting and somewhat succeeding at portraying Americans with questionable accents. The Aussie cast features Hugo Weaving (Thomas Doss), Rachel Griffiths (Bertha Doss), Sam Worthington (Capt. Glover) and Matt Nable (Lt. Cooney) round out the well-known Aussie stars in the film, with a number of recognisable faces springing up here and there throughout the film.
But the limelight should be shone on Garfield, as he is the true and only star of the film. We are shown the full capabilities of Garfield’s acting skills as this role stretches him, and it pays off. Garfield shows the physical and emotional strength of the man behind the story perfectly and its what makes this film. Its also easy to fall in love when listening to Garfield speak his lines, and although at times the religious stuff can hit you in the face a little, it never becomes overwhelming and combined with the Virginian accent that Garfield puts on helps sell this character and his story. He perfectly portrays the hero of Okinawa for us to experience.
The other star of this film is director Mel Gibson, who crafts a truly visually appealing and mentally stimulating film over its 139 minute run time. The way he has shaped the film makes it so wonderful to watch. I’ve never been so surprised by a film, like I was watching this masterpiece. The way in which Gibson combines the cinematography of Simon Duggan (The Great Gatsby) with the pounding and uplifting score of Rupert Gregson-Williams helps create different tensions and paces throughout the film. There are hints of the cliché slow-motion sequences and gruesome deaths/injuries associated with American World War films, but they never feel over the top but rather slide perfectly into the film adding to it rather then making it feel like another generic war film. All the functions of the film work for each other, from cinematography, to score, to editing, it’s all seamless and it’s downright pleasing to watch. Mel stars from behind the camera and brings the horror and beauty of World War II that has been absent since Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan.
Overall Gibson’s return to directors chair is outstanding, with a wonderful cast filled with outstanding Aussie actors, combining it with two stars of American films in Garfield and Vaughn, he creates a true masterpiece that is up there at the top of recent World War films, such as Saving Private Ryan and David Ayers Fury (2014). This film will pleasantly surprise you for both its action and its story, making it one of the most surprising films of all 2016 releases.
The Front Row Opinion