Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

It’s time for another movie review presented by our good friends over at FatCats Gilbert on the southwest corner of Greenfield and Baseline! FatCats Gilbert is the best combination of food, family, and fun in the entire valley! Why waste time thinking about what you want to do when you can go to FatCats Gilbert?

Every week I get to talk about movies I’m excited for, and this week is no different. I’m a big fan of war movies, so to be able to talk about Hacksaw Ridge today makes me so happy. I’m glad to see Mel Gibson back in the director’s chair because when Mel Gilbson directs, without wanting to take it for granted, I know I’m going to get one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen. I’ve never met a single guy who doesn’t love Braveheart, and I think Apocalypto is excellent, so Mel Gibson making movies is a great thing for me. I’ve been hearing things involving the words “Oscar” and “award” when reading and hearing about Hacksaw Ridge, and that only made me more excited after the fantastic trailer. Let’s talk about the movie!

Hacksaw Ridge is directed by Mel Gibson and stars Andrew Garfield as Desmond Doss, a Conscientious Observer who goes out onto the front lines of World War II without a weapon. He must stick to his pacifistic beliefs and show that he can serve his country by saving lives instead of taking them as a United States Army medic.

This movie. This movie is brilliant. I truly believe that Hacksaw Ridge is one of the best films I’ve seen this year, and I’m not surprised it’s getting the insane buzz that it is. First of all, Andrew Garfield is terrific. I was a little bit worried that I wasn’t going to completely buy into his southern accent, but I had nothing to worry about. I forgot he was acting about five minutes into the movie. One thing I thought Hacksaw Ridge did so well was keep the beliefs of the main character contained. While his beliefs let him flourish and pushed his character and his character arc, the movie never tells you what to believe. It just shows you how strongly this man believes, and that’s all I needed to be emotionally invested in this story the way I was. It’s not easy to watch him struggle to hold on to his values, and he is tested so many times by people, the Army, the government, and even his family, and watching him stay true to himself through every event is gripping. I loved this character. I loved every single other character as well. I thought Teresa Palmer turned in possibly the best performance of her career,  and Sam Worthington, once again, excelled in a supporting role. I even thought Luke Bracey killed it. I don’t think I’ve ever said that before, but I’m a changed man. He was so great in this movie, and the way he works with the main character blew me away. On top of Andrew Garfield, the two other stand-outs in this movie, for me, were Vince Vaughn and Hugo Weaving. Vince Vaughn is a great dramatic actor, and he gets to prove that in this movie on top of showing off his comedic chops that we all know he has. He has some one-liners that had my sides splitting. Hugo Weaving played Desmond’s father, and he was a battered war veteran who was abusive and hardened, but still came through for his family when he was needed, and Weaving was so great being able to counter himself and display both sides of the character.

I also have to talk about the war scenes in this movie. They’re gritty and real, and they blew me away. I don’t think any war scene will ever top the D-Day scene in Saving Private Ryan for me, but this comes darn close. Saving Private Ryan still has the definitive edge, but to be able to discuss these war scenes among Saving Private Ryan means that we could be talking about a classic war film right here. I know that this movie is going to stick with me, and I really do hope we have the next amazing and unforgettable war film on our hands. The battle scenes wouldn’t be nearly as mind-blowing without Mel Gibson directing. This movie is so beautiful, and the way Mel Gibson uses the camera without busting down barriers is stunning. Gibson doesn’t use long tracking shots or five-minute takes. He let’s scenes develop with wide shots and lets shots feed into each other, and it makes the action even better. This is one of the best looking movies I’ve seen in a very long time, and the goriness and color palette make the beauty combine with the brutality amazingly well. It’s all out trench warfare where we are just wondering how this man did what he did, and it’s kind of refreshing to see a main character who cared about humans the way he did. He cared about humans. He didn’t care about Americans or Japanese people. He cared that despite the fact that a man over there is attempting to plunge his bayonet into his torso, that was a human who was fighting for his country in the same way and with the same passion that Desmond Doss was.

It’s hard to pick out serious flaws I had with this movie, but I have a single nitpick. I think that the first act was a lot slower than the final two acts, and I think it suffered from a little bit of over-causality. In the beginning of the film we bounce from motive to motive explaining why Desmond Doss is who he is, and I thought it caused the opening to be slow. I would have been totally fine with once certain event changing Desmond’s path which we saw in the movie, but it was drawn out into supporting reasons for him to adopt his values.

Overall, Hacksaw Ridge blew me away. I thought it was one of the best movies of the year, and it has an incredible and inspiring story about a real man who became a hero by valuing human life, having compassion, and sticking to his proverbial guns. He didn’t stick to his literal guns because if he did we wouldn’t have this movie. Every single performances is amazing, and the war scenes genuinely compare to Saving Private Ryan. It is amazing well-written, and I walked out of the theater stunned. I had one small problem, but to me, my small problem was outweighed by Mel Gibson’s direction and this awesome story with near-perfect characters. I’m going to give Hacksaw Ridge a 9.5/10.

Will you be checking out Hacksaw Ridge? Comment down in the comments and let me know! If not, what will you be seeing at the theater this weekend? There may or may not be a brand new super hero movie out. I’m not sure. We have Oscar season coming up, so be sure to stick around for all of the reviews yet to come! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

PHOTO: IndieWire

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Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at movies@pulseradio.fm


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