Whilst the actor Mel Gibson may be content with staring in trashy action ensemble movies it would seem the director Mel Gibson has his sights set much higher. ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ is the fifth time Gibson has directed a film and with a good track record hopefully he would be able to do justice to this astounding true story. The Academy certainly think so anyway as the film has achieved several Oscar nominations including one for Best Picture.
The leading man charged with the challenge of portraying the heroic Desmond Doss, the soldier the film is about, is Andrew Garfield. Whereas many would have expected an Oscar nomination to come as a result of his performance in Martin Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ it was actually his work here in ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ that has earned him that accolade. Garfield is brilliant as Doss, bringing a lot of different elements to his role. He is able to convey believable chemistry, more physical aspects and the heavy drama required by the narrative. I’ve still to see Denzel Washington’s Oscar nominated performance but at the minute I think I would like to see Garfield pick up the award. Other talented members of the cast include the likes of Hugo Weaving & Luke Bracey, Bracey especially impressed me considering his previous performance in the ‘Point Break’ remake from last year. Whilst that performance would have almost written his career off for me, here he shows a lot of promise. However, one rather odd casting choice was Vince Vaughn as Sergeant Howell, known largely for his comedic acting I did find his involvement here a little off putting at times. There isn’t anything specifically wrong with his performance but he just couldn’t ever quite shake his funny man persona.
At surface level ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ is just a war film and with this genre comes a lot of challenges in creating these scenes of battle. Gibson does incredibly well though, he conveys the absolute horror that warfare brings in truly alarming fashion. Many of the battle sequences will leave you in a state of shock, probably being the most brutal showcased since Spielberg’s ‘Saving Private Ryan’. There were a few elements to these sequences I wasn’t so fond of, at times there are moments included to make audiences jump, I didn’t think this kind of technique was either necessary or appropriate when dealing with this story, not a major issue but one that I did find slightly jarring. The film doesn’t need these moments due to the strength of the narrative. It’s a story full of stories, yes the film is predominately about war but it deals with so many aspects within this. As well as that it looks at the strength of faith and belief and how that affects our interaction with the world around us. The story takes its time and never feels the need to rush to get to the battle scenes, I think I actually enjoyed the first part of the film more where we see Doss face adversity from foes much closer to home than Japan.
‘Hacksaw Ridge’ is a great example of how the power of film can expose spectacular true stories to much larger audiences. This film has an awesome story, one that deserves to be told and one that I’m so glad has now been committed to film so that it can live on forever more. There are a few small issues along the way but Gibson and Garfield succeed in successfully capturing the essence of the story and tell it in a wonderfully entertaining way making ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ essential viewing for fans of amazing stories.
Rating – 8.5/10
Question: Did you prefer Garfield’s performance in ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ or ‘Silence’?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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