I’m not one for crying in movies; I just don’t get the urge to. I’m apparently that heartless that I didn’t even shed a single tear in The Notebook, Atonement or The Green Mile, but plop me down in front of a good war movie or something with an animal in it and I’ll blubber like a baby. But when a mate invited me to see Hacksaw Ridge with her, I was keen because I love a good war flick, but I was tired and bloated that night so wasn’t all that enthusiastic. But we went and saw it regardless of my gassyness, and holy crap it was good.
Hacksaw Ridge completely took me by surprise, and I’m ashamed to say I went into that theatre with the bar set quite low. Don’t get me wrong, I ain’t no pansy! War/action/drama are my homies, but Mel Gibson worries me sometimes. Braveheart is still up there as an all time great movie for me (that’s probably just my half Scottish heritage getting all patriotic…), yet I wasn’t sure what sort of movie he would produce that wasn’t a bit of a egotistical wankfest. But you know what? He did a brilliant bloody job, and I’d like to formally apologise for thinking he didn’t have it in him. You go Willy Wallace!
During the movie, there wasn’t a single thing that I didn’t like about it. Sure, it was gory and intense, but that’s the bloody point! It’s supposed to reflect of the pure terror that is war, and its relentless gore and blood and fire does the best that is possible for a movie. Poo to the critics that say he went over the top! In my humble opinion, apart from Fury it’s one of the only movies I’ve seen that I think would come close to accurately reflecting what a soldier would see & mentally catalogue on a battleground.
When it comes to movies based on true stories, I’d normally nerd out and research the hell out of the real life characters beforehand, but this time I decided not to, and I’m oh-so-happy I didn’t. Learning about Desmond Doss through the heartfelt, blood soaked masterpiece that was Hacksaw Ridge is the way to go if you have a minimal knowledge of the back story. By all means research it afterwards, as they “Hollywoodized” the story quote a lot, but you have to for it to be able to all fit into the length of a movie.
Andrew Garfield as the lead character Desmond Doss was wholly an unexpected standout performance. They acknowledge early on his lankiness and his oddball religion, but oh man, you feel for him the whole way through. He’s so much more than just Spiderman now.
I was actually a bit worried when I saw the character Vince Vaughn was playing. But you know what? He bloody well nailed it. He bought humour to a movie that you wouldn’t expect needed or warranted it, and made the role his own. I’ll be taking him a lot more seriously from here on out.
Luke Bracey as Smitty was another standout character for me. You sort of know he has it in him from the start, but towards the end you’re totally Team Smitty, and you’re torn between wanting to slap him and make out with him a lot of the time.
Other A+ performances came from fellow Aussie actor Hugo Weaving as Desmonds’ father Tom Doss…
Sam Worthington as Captain Glover…
And Teresa Palmer as Desmonds’ gutsy missus Dorothy Schutte.
Apart from Garfield, who’s actually a Pom, you may have noticed something from the cast – The majority of them are Aussies. Good on Gibson for seeing his homeland talent, and pushing them onto the screen in a Hollywood blockbuster. In researching this I found that quite a few were from Neighbours or Home & Away which I found amusing, but when you think about it so many Aussies actors get their start that way, that it makes sense for Gibson to use those shows as a catalogue of sorts.
I’m sure there’s a fancy movie reviewer term for it, but one thing that really stood out to me was the use of eyes. I have a thing for guys with light eyes, and I swear that Gibson knew this and played it up to the max. There were striking glue eye left-right-and-bloody-centre just calling our for help, and it was really bloody effective.
I highly recommend you see this while it’s still in the cinemas, as the sound really has an effect on you in Hacksaw Ridge, and popcorn is always a good choice.
Overall, I rate Hacksaw Ridge 4 1/2 out of 5 gutsy heroes.