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Hacksaw Ridge Review: War Movies

Updated on February 23, 2017
Hacksaw Ridge poster
Hacksaw Ridge poster

Intro

Hacksaw Ridge is a dramatic, war film about Desmond Doss and his experiences in the Second World War. The film is directed by Mel Gibson who is renowned for creating such biographical epics such as The Passion Of The Christ and Braveheart. Desmond Doss is a combat medic who refuses to carry or use a firearm. He is a Seventh-day Adventist Christian and is deeply rooted in his faith. The film's first act covers his earlier personal life while the second and third acts cover the war and Battle of Okinawa.

The film is noticeably Andrew Garfield's first role since his departure from Amazing Spider-Man film series.

Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield)
Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield)
Desmond (Andrew Garfield) saving a fellow cadet.
Desmond (Andrew Garfield) saving a fellow cadet.

Plot

The film focuses most its first act on Desmond Doss's childhood and character. His childhood was troublesome due to his father's post-traumatic stress disorder from serving in the military. Desmond Doss is a sweet, southern boy who despite his backstory cares for others like family. He volunteers for church and helps strangers out in need.

The film's second act focuses on Desmond Doss's time in Fort Jackson. Once Desmond gets to Fort Jackson, he is beaten, ridiculed, and treated unfairly due to his faith. Desmond is beaten and ridiculed because of faith. Sargent Howell (Vince Vaughn) and Captain Glover (Sam Worthington) sympathetically try to get him out of service. This part of the film is heavy in religious tone. However, Desmond's religion is an important part of the film as it sets up the heroic acts we see from him in act three.

The third features the Battle of Okinawa and houses the film's most brutal and gory action scenes. The film strengths are in its realistic depiction of war. This portion of the movie is dirty, bloody, and gory. Anyone one who's squeamish may find themselves cringing more than usual. It is also best to not get attached to any of the characters. As is war, people lives end at any moment. The memorable moments of the film will come from the horrors of war itself. When a man sees his friend die in front of him and then uses him as a meat shield...it is almost speechless.

Combat medic, Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) and his battalion charging into battle.
Combat medic, Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) and his battalion charging into battle.

Cinematography and Sound

The film's imagery puts the horrors of war on display. Slow motion draw out the intensity of some scenes. The dreary blue and brown hue of the film gives it a gloomy tone. The scenes of the fight on Okinawa portray the muddy battlefield in all its somberness. The film's practical effects featuring the lifeless bodies of the men are almost too real.

The film's sound effects compliment and add authenticity to the film.show the horrors of war. While watching you'll hear the wet, pounding sound of bullets as they hit flesh. The loud metallic sound of the bullets as they ricochet off of helmets. The wizzzzzz sound of the grenade before it goes off. The satisfying bang, bang, bang noises of the rifles. The squeaks of the mice as they eat the flesh of the dead...and so on.

Closing

Amidst the chaos of war, the film finds a way to tell the true story of a man who held steadfast to his principles and faith. An example of how is inspirational and spiritual the dialogue is—when Desmond says, "Please Lord, help me get one more." The film shows war in its entirety but can seen to be a little one-sided. Also, a suspense of disbelief is required for some scenes. Garfield's performance throughout is a splitting image to the real Desmond Doss we see in the end. The film's epilogue shows footage featuring the real Doss and a few others as they attest to Doss's courage and kindness. Several scenes in the movie are retold by Desmond himself showing the wonderful level of accuracy.This movie is not a war movie or an anti-war film. It's a raw, drama about a man and his experiences throughout one of the deadliest wars in history. But, more importantly it celebrates the heroism of our veterans and current military personnel.

Hacksaw Ridge is currently on Amazon Video, ITunes, and Blu-ray/DVD.

4 stars for Hacksaw Ridge

Comments

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    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 6 months ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      Looking forward to it, if you write something about it.

    • Joseph Lawrence profile image
      Author

      Joseph Lawrence 6 months ago from New York, New York

      I've heard nothing but good things about Moonlight. I'll give it a watch.

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 6 months ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      I don't know of any other way of contacting you apart from in this comment box, but here goes.

      I cannot wait to read your opinion on 'Moonlight' which has just grabbed the Best Picture award at the Academy Awards... bit of a mix-up there, ha ha ha.

      I saw 'Moonlight' a couple of day ago, and I was very impressed, uplifted and sad, all in equal measure, at the end.

      Cheers

      Ian

    • Joseph Lawrence profile image
      Author

      Joseph Lawrence 7 months ago from New York, New York

      You're right—it is important to remember our allies has a war isn't won by itself.

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 7 months ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      I thought this was a truly amazing and inspiring piece of drama. Well done Mr Gibson. A slight inaccuracy in your retelling of some of the incidents; those mice were actually rats.

      And while we're at it, can I point out that there were one or two others involved in that conflict known as World War II. Your "But, more importantly it celebrates the heroism of our veterans and current military personnel." seems to be a rather inward looking and emotional statement of the bravery of Americans, rather than remembering those others participants.