Come for a story about peace, stay for the war sequences
Hacksaw Ridge (2016):WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people, and becomes the first man in American history to win the Medal of Honor without firing a shot.
Wait, Mel Gibson directed this? I'm just as surprised as you are. Well, even though Gibson is not the most sane person on the planet, I've always tried to seperate the man from his work, and when you do that here you find yourself with a pretty darn good film. While there are definitely some problems in the story sequences, and a few of the action sequences go a little overboard, overall this is a great film with several extremely moving sequences. So, let's jump into it shall we?
First off, what does this film get right? Let's talk about the big one: the action sequences. These action sequences are already being compared to Saving Private Ryan, which still serves as the pinnacle for wartime action sequences, and for good reason. These sequences are incredible, and certainly worth the price of admission alone. Gibson uses minimum CGI to make these sequences look as brutal as possible. While there were a few points where Gibson went overboard and made things unnecessarily brutal, (did we really need to see the Japanese Seppuku at the end of the film?) overall the sequences were simply excellent. On top of the thrilling war sequences, you had one of the better performances I've seen so far this year from Andrew Garfield. While this film has a relatively weak supporting cast, this allows Garfield to really shine, as he brings a wide range of emotions to this complicated role. This is easily the best performance of his young career. While 2016 is shaping up to be a strong year for actors, I would not be surprised to see a nomination for Garfield next year.
However, despite the brilliant performance from Andrew Garfield, you have a very lackluster performance from Hugo Weaving to offset it. Easily the weakest part of the film, Weaving's portrayal as the father, Tom Doss, was both poorly written and executed. The British Hugo Weaving's Virginian accent left much to be desired, and the lackluster character arc certainly didn't help. Additionally, Teresa Palmer, who was excellent in Lights Out, was completely wasted in yet another role that can be described as "the wife." This story line was definitely rushed, but I am willing to forgive this since the movie had to move quickly through the backstory to get to the actual war sequences. This movie makes use of every second of its 139 minute runtime, though it cerrtainly felt more like 180 minutes. (which in this case is a good thing)
Ultimately, while I've highlighted more of the negatives than the positives, that's because at the end of the day this is a great film. During the climax of the film, I was very emotionally moved, and then when you add on top of it some phenomenal action sequences and a memorable performance from your lead you certainly have a movie that will be talked about in this year's Oscar season. I would definit4ely recommend checking this one out!
The Critique: Despite some shortcomings, Hacksaw Ridge is a great film thanks to some of the most brutal war sequences ever seen on film, as well as a great performance from its lead.
The Recommendation: If you like WWII films, it's a must-see. If you like Andrew Garfield, it's a must-see. If you're not a fan of either, this film might be able to change your mind.
The Verdict: 8/10 Great
Image Credit: http://static.srcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/hacksaw-ridge-2016-andrew-garfield.jpg
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