Directed by Mel Gibson
Hacksaw Ridge can easily be divided into two sections. The first half being bright and thought provoking. It asks questions about someone's right to stay true to their beliefs regardless of the consequences. It’s full of patriotism, god and a touch of romance but about halfway through it becomes a completely different movie. Once the film takes you to the Pacific Theatre it becomes formulaic and predictable. Full of rah-rah jingoism surrounded by, now familiar, WWII action scenes of death and destruction. Andrew Garfield plays Desmond Doss whose ability to avoid injury during the final act starts to become almost cartoonish. Which undermines much of the weight that these scenes were supposed to have. Now I understand this is based on a true story but unlike Hidden Figures, which is also based on a true story, it’s easy to see where the lines between reality and fiction meet. There’s no denying that the real Desmond Doss is a hero but when I start questioning the honesty of the film I’m almost immediately pulled out of the experience.
Mel Gibson directs a cast studded with actors that often have you asking yourself why BLANK RECOGNIZABLE ACTOR is in this picture. Even Andrew Garfield seems miscast. I still think he does a fine job but his pretty boy good looks and overly syrupy southern accent can be somewhat distracting. Especially opposite Vince Vaughn, who pulls a David Schwimmer from Band of Brothers here. But unlike Band of Brothers they don't seem to understand the ridiculousness of that casting. That’s without even mentioning Hugo Weaving, who I think overacted this one.
Hacksaw Ridge is a technically sound movie. It looks good, it sounds good and has good looking people in it, but for me it didn’t quite come together. It feels disjointed with strange casting choices. But it does have one thing going for it: a commendable message. Desmond Doss’ story is one of compassion and standing up for what you believe in. Something that I think is particularly resonant in today’s politically charged climate. I’m just not sure it deserved an Oscar nod. (Side note: I was struck by how different this movie must have played during its initial release as opposed to now, only a few short months later.)
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