One of the films we wanted to see at the cinema but missed it due to it getting a surprisingly short run and ourselves being on holiday was Hacksaw Ridge, which was Mel Gibson’s return as director for the first time since Apocalypto way back in 2006
Mel had been battling a few shall we say off-screen problems which saw his front of camera performances reduced to cameos in Expendables 3 and Machete Kills, before a modest return in last year’s Blood Father, but Hacksaw would see him receive praise of old as the film would go on to be nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Best Picture; Director and Actor.
The film concerns World War II Army medic Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) who served in the horrific Battle of Okinawa. What makes the story more unique is Doss refused to carry a weapon or kill people.
Yet it is more than a story for a film, it is all true, Doss would go into war without killing anyone and save over 50 lives as well.
The film opens with Doss being carried off the battlefield and then takes us back to his life as a child. We learn that he comes from a family with strong religious beliefs which he quickly takes on himself, especially after an incident after a fight with his brother could have taken his life. When looking for a sign for his brother to survive he sees the 10 commandments on a framed picture in the family home and takes note of Thou Shall Not Kill
We then jump to the older Doss, who has been living with his troubled War Veteran father Tom (Hugo Weaving) which sees his wife (Rachel Griffiths) take many of his mood swings.
Desmond’s brother, Hal (Nathaniel Buzolic) has already enlisted and is heading off to serve in the Army, much to the upset of Tom.
Desmond now wishes to follow Hal and signs up to do his duty to serve, promising himself not to kill anyone, supported by his future wife, Dorothy (Teresa Palmer)
We then see Desmond placed under the command of Sgt Howell (Vince Vaughn) where he excels in all training but is then intimidated and pushed out from the group for refusing to take part in rifle training.
Howell and Captain Glover (Sam Worthington) put increasing pressure on Doss to leave, forcing him to do increased work. Doss again refuses to turn down the right to serve his country, even after taking a beating from his fellow soldiers.
Doss is eventually arrested for refusing an order to carry a weapon, which stops him getting married as he put into prison. Doss is told to plead Guilty, even by Dorothy so he can be released without charge but again he refuses to compromise his beliefs.
Tom eventually steps in, with a letter from his former commanding officer which shows that Desmond’s decision to not kill is protected by an act of Congress and all charges are dropped and he allowed to serve at the Battle.
What follows are some truly horrific scenes of war, as you would expect from the director of Braveheart but it is also in these scenes we realise just what an incredible act of bravery Doss undertook to keep to his beliefs. Risking his life to save numerous injured soldiers at great risk to himself, shows him to be a bigger hero than the numerous comic book ones that are hogging cinema at present.
Risking his life to save numerous injured soldiers at great risk to himself, shows him to be a bigger hero than the numerous comic book ones that are hogging cinema at present.
Our only problem in scenes where he looks to his God to give him the strength to rescue one more was that it did remind us of similar scenes in Forrest Gump which is a shame, as Doss story being true should have had a bigger impact. As if the film is aware, over the end credits, footage and facts about Doss are told to force home what a true hero he was.
As a genre, War films we would say are our least favourite but this is a truly great film worthy of its plaudits, Garfield is great as the troubled soldier and Gibson really does show the horrors of war in the action scenes that could at times be mistaken for a Rambo film possibly.
Desmond Doss is a true war hero and this a story not only worth telling but one worth seeing so we highly recommend it.
You can find the trailer here:
You can find the film at Amazon here:
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