Truthfully, Hacksaw Ridge wasn’t ever on my “must watch” list for this year’s awards contenders films. It wasn’t until praise for it started flooding in from every corner that I even considered it could be something other than an average war film, but believe me I could not have been more wrong.
It stars Andrew Garfield, based on The Hero of Hacksaw Ridge, a memoir of real soldier Desmond Doss & his time in the Second World War. Downside is that it’s directed by Mel Gibson which does spoil it a little.
The film tells the true story of Desmond Doss, a soldier who fought for his right to go into war unarmed & help as many people as he could. He dove headfirst into the frontline of World War II solely to save those around him, & though he was bullied, critiqued & punished trying to get there he grew to be his squadron’s most valued soldier.
Desmond Doss is one of the most incredible men ever to have lived, & I’m so grateful that this film can now preserve his story. He is kind & cheeky & aware of who he is in both his strengths & his weaknesses. Andrew Garfield is at his greatest as him, providing both a respectful & awe inspiring performance as this incredible man.
Desmond has a brother, a mother & a father; the latter, Thomas Doss, being the most prominent character. Thomas is a shell of who he once was, & serving in the First World War changed his entire personality. He is abusive & broken, struggling to find the good in himself & Hugo Weaving conveys all these emotions to a tee.
Doss’s soldier squad is one of the best parts of the film. All with ridiculous nicknames from Hollywood to Ghoul, WSC actor gives such a unique life to the individual characters that works so well as a unit.
They’re lead by Captain Glover & Sergeant Howell – played by Avatar’s Sam Worthington & surprisingly, Vince Vaughn – who is actually perfect in this role.
The writing is pretty simple, but effective. The first part of the film feels like a Nicholas Sparks movie, all romantic & soft & at times a little bit eye roll-y. But that all changes the minute those soldiers go over the ridge & on to the battlefield.
It’s not unintentional. It’s exactly how war was sold; all the focus is on how much of a hero you’re going to be right, right up until you reach the horrors on the front line. It’s a tough watch but it feels important that you do see it.
I really liked the way it was filmed. It’s a lot of soft lights that make it feel vintage, with so much literal darkness on the battlefield. The shots are swooping & long, really character orientated & inspiring.
Hacksaw Ridge is inspiring, incomprehensible, hard to watch at times but above all incredible. It’s unforgettable, & something you need to see.
Hacksaw Ridge is out on DVD in the U.K. today.