Friday, April 14, 2017
Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
Plot: Desmond Doss grew up in a seventh-day adventist church which leads to him strongly believing in the commandment "Thou shall not kill" after he nearly kills his younger brother during a fight. He becomes interested in medical work after he falls in love with a nurse named Dorothy and decides to become a combat medic. He becomes an outcast among his fellow soldiers when he refuses to train on Saturdays or pick up a rifle. Eventually, he is allowed to be a medic without a weapon and thus faces the challenge of trying to save lives with being able to defend himself.
You know, it's stuff like this that is why World War II is my favorite time period. It's the time in our history that's so rich with stories of different kinds and from different perspectives during a war that we tend to romanticize as a great fight between good and evil even if that's not necessarily how the entire world sees it. Right down to the concept that this is about someone who specifically wants to be a medic during World War II without carrying a gun, I was immediately invested in the story and from there Hacksaw Ridge just got better and better and better.
I'm not going to beat around the bush here, let's start off with the strongest aspect of the movie, Andrew Garfield. I love this guy in both Amazing Spider-Man films and even though I look forward to what Tom Holland has in store for Spider-Man: Homecoming, I do wish we got a little more of Garfield as the infamous web-head, and it's stuff like this that gives me more reasons why. I love how devoted Andrew Garfield is to his role and how it's a story about sticking to your beliefs. He's not insane, he's not doing it out of pride - though at one point he considers that it might be the case, he's sticking to his beliefs as a Christian and is willing to do his part in the war no matter the risk, and to a Christian like me, that is nothing short of awesome. When I came home from watching this movie and I was talking to my brother about it who saw it weeks before I did, he asked me if Andrew Garfield is a Christian and I told him no but his performance is so good that it kind of makes me believe that he could be a pretty good Christian if he opened his heart to Jesus like that. Now obviously that's a subject that's a matter between Garfield and Jesus, but you get the idea that he makes the idea of sticking to your faith so awesome and inspiring. It also helps that is not a simple decision for him to not pick up a gun. Everyone including his fiancé, Dorothy, tells him to do it, he has a nightmare where he gets shot and is defenseless to stop it, and we even have a back story that goes further into why he refuses to carry a gun which was great.
The other actors are pretty good too. I was really surprised that Sam Worthington is actually in this film. Truth be told, I thought he practically disappeared from the map after movies like Terminator Salvation, Avatar and a couple other films, but he's in here to and he gave a nice performance. It was also kind of a nice surprise to see some other actors like Vince Vaughn and Hugo Weaving perform, and I honestly wonder if the relationship between Desmond and Dorothy was as strong and challenged in real life as they make it out to be in the movie.
One of the main reasons why I really wanted to see this movie was because of the action. Like I said before, my brother saw it before me and he said that the battle scenes are just as good if not arguably better in the Omaha beach scene in Saving Private Ryan. Immediately, that got me interested because we and the rest of our siblings we're pretty much raised to hold Saving Private Ryan in such high regard to the point that it's tradition in our family to watch the movie on June 6th as a way to pay our respects to the men who fought and died at Omaha Beach. So I was eager to find out how exactly did Hacksaw Ridge meet/exceed the gore and the emotion that Steven Spielberg brought in Saving Private Ryan. When I got to the first battle, just the mere setup exceeded my expectations with the soldiers looking at corpses that have been destroyed and some are even getting eaten by rats and it sets the mood perfectly. Jeremy Jahns said it best in his own review for the movie when he said that they set it like the soldiers are in a horror movie. The action itself is full of so much action and gore that looks so realistic and sometimes hard to watch. It establishes perfectly how anyone can die in any possible way. Now you could make the argument that it's potentially too gory if for no other reason than the fact that this is directed by Mel Gibson who does have a reputation for being considered, shall we say, a little too interested in bringing in gore to his films. I'll admit that sometimes I did think that way while watching the film knowing that he directed this too, but it doesn't hurt the movie. I think similar to Braveheart and at least most of The Passion of the Christ, he brings the right kind of violence to capture what happened at that time period.
The last third of the movie is the most emotional part of the movie. I won't go into details for those of you who haven't seen it, but it's the heart of what makes this film different from other WWII films. It's thrilling, it's suspenseful, you don't know for sure what's going to happen and when the end credits hit, I was starting to cry, the ending was so incredible.
And that's my review for Hacksaw Ridge. If your not interested in gore Mel Gibson style or something like that, I understand, but to me, the action was great, the emotional moments where powerful, and Garfield gives a wonderful performance that tells such a remarkable story. I'll admit that I'm biased seeing as I am a Christian myself, but I think this is such a moving film regardless. It probably stood no chance in winning best picture, but it's still a film that I recommend.