Hacksaw Ridge starring Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughn & Sam Worthington
Based on the incredible true story of Desmond Doss, Hacksaw Ridge is a movie about how a young combat medic didn’t bend his pacifist beliefs for anyone, and ended up being a war hero without having fired a gun or used a weapon (with the wonderful exception where he used a rifle to make a makeshift sliding stretcher for his wounded sergeant).
Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) grows up in a violent home. Even though he has a loving mother (Rachel Griffiths), his father (Hugo Weaving) frequently uses violence on them, including his brother Hal (Nathaniel Buzolic; Kol from The Vampire Diaries and The Originals).
Their father is not necessarily evil; he is just a war veteran dealing with survivor’s guilt and PTSD horribly.
Doss boys seem to have a violent streak themselves. During one fight, Desmond almost injures Hal beyond repair, which triggers Desmond to embrace the peace-loving nature of his religion.
Desmond Doss grows up to be a loving, caring and determined man. He falls in love with beautiful nurse Dorothy (Teresa Palmer), which further ignites his love for medicine. Not having been educated well, being a paramedic seems to be his only option. Fuelled to serve his country and do something while others are also risking lives, he enlists. However, he objects to doing any weapon training and gets treated horribly by most of his fellow soldiers in training and superiors.
However, he eventually manages to get what he wants. And as horrifying violence and mayhem surround them, everyone who ridiculed him gets to see what he is truly made of – again and again and again.
I haven’t seen Apocalypto or The Passion of the Christ. However, I have seen Braveheart (and The Man Without a Face, which is not a war film.) – and I while Hacksaw Ridge isn’t quite there, it is pretty damn impressive.
Hacksaw Ridge is also understandably more violent. Braveheart had swords and arrows. Hacksaw Ridge doesn’t shy away from any shot that might make you cringe or want to look away. It has more blood, more severed limbs, and people in more pain. It makes you uncomfortable, and not for the sake of show or art. War is hell, and Mel Gibson makes sure you feel that in your veins.
Many people, including the cast argue Hacksaw Ridge is both a love story and a war story; you might consider it one or the other. But I disagree. Hacksaw Ridge is an epic anti-war movie with beautiful romantic scenes and horrifying war scenes. But it is more a respectful, albeit glorious, biography of a humane man of faith than a war film or a romance.
I’m agnostic. I don’t like religious motives or messages much. But you see, Hacksaw Ridge might show a Bible, but anyone with a heart can’t disagree of how Doss has interpreted the message: “Don’t harm anyone. And absolutely, do not kill.”
And he does exactly that. He doesn’t fight back when people hit him, which might be considered extreme. But he is proving a point. He is proving his principles. And he ends up saving 75 people in the course of about 12 hours. He helps a lot more.
He gets shocked and wounded and tested. But he doesn’t give up. He prays to be able to save another man. And then prays to be able to save the next.
Comparisons to Saving Private Ryan
Comparisons are being made for better and worse, and it’s only natural.
– Like Saving Private Ryan (aff. link), Hacksaw Ridge asks some very hard questions about humanity.
“Is the life of 8 men more or less important than the life one 1, if the mother of that one kid has lost three of her four kids in the same war.”
“Is it ever okay to kill and go against your beliefs? Or is it okay to risk everything to make the world a better place?”
– Both films have disturbingly realistic battle scenes. Both films have great casts, though SPR’s might have been slightly more famous. Both are critically acclaimed; both have amazing directors.
– Both films have solid anti-war messages.
– Both films must be seen as movie lovers, and people.
– I liked them both. I just liked HR a bit better.
Mel Gibson is my favorite actor, and he is one of my favorite directors. So there is a positive bias. But HR assaults your emotions for a shorter time. It’s ultimately less depressing despite being equally terrifying at times.
It’s a matter of personal preference. I’m pretty sure I can’t sit through SPR again one more time, just like I’d have to fast-forward HR’s battle scenes. Once is enough.
– Both movies have achieved greatness at shockingly low budgets for movies this size: Saving Private Ryan at 70 mil and Hacksaw Ridge at 40 mil.
Some more reasons to see Hacksaw Ridge
– The training scenes have some good humor. I loved the sergeant’s (Vince Vaughn) reaction to the naked soldier “Hollywood.” Also, Vince Vaughn is in a dramatic role again.
I have loved Vince Vaughn as an actor since Return to Paradise, which is one of my favorite films. It provides one of the most humane, enthralling and impossible-to-make decisions ever, and Vaughn shines in a dramatic role. Sure, he almost always talks fast, but he is as good as drama as he is at comedy. HR takes him to deeper lengths than The Interns ever could or wanted to (which is really entertaining film). The point is, Vaughn has more substance than just being the king of R-rated comedies.
– The romance is very well-done. It’s not sappy or corny. It has a pureness to it we haven’t quite seen since the relationship between Wallace and Murron. It feels real (and well, it was real.) So if like me, you really didn’t enjoy The Choice, here’s Teresa Palmer’s second chance to win you over in a romantic story.
Hacksaw Ridge is a must-see war film. It’s, in my opinion, not the best movie or the best war movie ever made. It’s however a very exquisite one that deserves to be seen on the big screen. It’s not always easy to watch, but you will feel intensely. You will occasionally escape your reality and the depressing things going on around the world. However, you’ll also be faced with the uncensored ugliness of war. I’d say it is great entertainment, but that’d not be the best choice of words. I wasn’t entertained. I felt. A lot, and all the time.
Written by Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight. Also featuring Luke Bracey and Milo Gibson (one of Mel Gibson’s 8 kids). Directed by Mel Gibson.
How about you? Have you seen Hacksaw Ridge? What did you think?