Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Hacksaw Ridge film review

Went to see this film at the Leeds/Bradford Odeon.

IMDB says: WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people, and becomes the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot.

In this Mel Gibson (Braveheart, Lethal Weapon) directed film, screenplay by Robert Schenkkan (All the Way, The Quiet American) and Andrew Knight (The Water Diviner, Full Frontal), Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spiderman, Never Let Me Go) stars as Desmond Doss, the WWII American Army Medic who refuses to hold a weapon. 

Brought up as a Seventh Day Adventist, with a drunken wife-beating father, possibly because he is former soldier and survivor of WWI, Tom (Hugo Weaving: The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings) and God-fearing mother Bertha (Rachel Griffiths: My Best Friend's Wedding, Saving Mr Banks), Desmond vows never to raise his hand in violence.  Following a serious accident where Desmond uses his belt as a tourniquet, he meets Dorothy (Teresa Palmer: I Am Number Four, Warm Bodies) a nurse, who he immediately falls in love with.

With the outbreak of War, Desmond feels he must fight alongside his fellow man and joins the Army where he meets several other new recruits, such as Hollywood Zane (Luke Pegler: Fool's Gold, See No Evil) and Smitty Riker (Luke Bracey: Point Break, The November Man) and his commanding officer Sergeant Howell (Vince Vaughn: The Internship, The Wedding Crashers).  All goes well until weapons training and he refuses to pick up a gun.  When threats by Howell and his Captain, Jack Glover (Sam Worthington: Avatar, Terminator Salvation) and a sustained campaign to get rid of the 'coward' do not work, the Army takes him to court, but with help from his father, it is proved to be against his constitutional rights.  Once the company makes it to war, the 1945 battle of Okinawa, his comrades begin to see what Desmond is really made of.


This powerful film, based on a true story, is a little gem.  From the very beginning we see, through the eyes of the protagonist, the joys and heartaches of life, love in it's many forms and the brutality and ultimate futility of war. 

Not for the squeamish, for me the war scenes evoked echoes of Saving Private Ryan for their authenticity of what man can do to his fellow man, but never in a glorified way.  But it is the highs and lows that Doss experiences in this part of his life that really pulls you along on this emotional journey with him.  Dealing with all the issues surrounding war, including the psychological impact and after effects, by both the father and son.

With exceptional performances both from Garfield, who truly proves his acting chops in this movie, and the supporting cast, including a sublime Weaving and surprising Vaughn, where all the characters get to be more than two-dimensional, this is a courageous film that deserves to be ranked with Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers.

Tagline: Based on the incredible true story.                                                                    9/10

Trivia: When asked how many lives he saved, Desmond T. Doss said approximately 50. However, witnesses said it was closer to 100. A mutual agreement was reached at approximately 75. According to director Mel Gibson, who's movie received a longer than 9 minutes standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival in September, Desmond T. Doss's son Desmond Jr. attended the screening and was moved to tears by Andrew Garfield's accurate portrayal of his dad.

 #HacksawRidge #AndrewGarfield #Odeon #MELGIBSON

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