Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge is a masterful piece of filmmaking. Gibson’s eye for action is second to none and he has created some of the most impressive battle sequences ever filmed for this WWII drama. The sheer scope of what’s on display is a stunning technical marvel – and it’s easy to see why Gibson was lauded by his peers in the film industry for his work on this momentous story.
Andrew Garfield plays Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector who signed up to the US army medical core during WWII, but refused to carry a weapon due to his religious beliefs. Sneered at by his fellow soldiers and criticised by his superior officers, Doss went on to receive the Medal of Honour after single-handedly saving 75 men during the bloody Battle of Okinawa.
Hacksaw Ridge is a story that seems too far-fetched to be true, but the records are there to prove that Desmond Doss was a remarkably courageous individual. The opening of Gibson’s epic might delve a little too deep into chocolate box saccharinity, but it’s the perfect contrast to the brutal carnage of war that dominates the film’s last half. Garfield’s Doss is a gee-shucks all-American, yet he handles the role with aplomb. However, it’s the supporting roles which really shine. Hugo Weaving scores high as Doss’ violent father, while Sam Worthington and Vince Vaughn impress as the superior officers who simply don’t understand why Doss won’t carry a weapon into battle.
Through Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto, Mel Gibson has been able to portray violence in an almost balletic fashion. Together with cinematographer Simon Duggan and editor John Gilbert, Gibson has crafted powerful battle sequences by using varying speeds and frame-rates to draw the viewer in to their beauty and brutality. The influence of Gibson’s Mad Max director, George Miller is evident in the composition and pacing and this joins Miller’s Fury Road as one of the best action pictures of the decade.
Hacksaw Ridge has a huge amount to recommend on a performance level, but this is definitely director Mel Gibson’s film. It’s an expertly put together drama that’s heartfelt and dramatic. Over the years there have been countless WWII movies, but few are as expertly crafted as this one.
The Hacksaw Ridge blu-ray comes with an impressive 70 minute documentary The Soul of War: Making Hacksaw Ridge which look at Doss’s story as well as how the film came together. The disc also includes a short Veterans Day Greeting with Mel Gibson, deleted scenes (nothing spectacular) and a trailer. A great package.