"I will not touch a rifle, Sir."
I am not a fan of Mel Gibson the person but as a filmmaker he makes some very compelling films. Hacksaw Ridge is no different. What he gives here is a great story of a man of principle who finds a way to fight in a war that doesn't violate his personal ethics as a Christian man. The perfect kind of film for me on Christmas Eve.
Now usually I run screaming from these kind of preach fests but this one got me right from the beginning. Maybe it had a lot to do with the role Hugo Weaving played as the Dad who was damaged by his role in WWI and now can't live with his survivor's guilt. All that influences Andrew Garfield's character to join the army as a medic and fight for his right to go into battle without a weapon. Pretty high concept stuff for what is a violent war battle/love story. Gibson, as usual, wants to be all things to all people and for the most part he succeeds here is you want to put in the hours necessary to go on this journey.
The trailer tells you all you really need to know. Except that Weaving deserve a best supporting Oscar nod. He is raw and hurt and I feel every second of his pain. That is the kind of performance that sticks with you long after the film is done.
I got totally into this one because I knew that all the emotional set-ups would pay off eventually. Gibson is nothing if not thorough with his storytelling. Does that make the journey worth the tough things we have to watch the main character go through? Well that is up to you. It was worth it to me because I never thought to turn it off or got distracted by something else. That says a lot.
Vince Vaughn is very good as the drill sergeant training our boys for war. So much fun to be in charge of newbies when you can just yell at them and give them nicknames. I remember that fondly as a cadet and a cadet instructor. The levity of these scenes is appreciated.
The fact that this is a true story makes this one extra interesting.
The film wisely doesn't spend a ton of time of the court martial trial Doss went through to get the right to NOT carry a rifle. After the first hour of set-up it is right to the horrors of war which is something that Gibson truly relishes. I haven't decided if this makes his a genius or a sadist. He does have a gift for horrific battle scenes if you can call it that. I never doubt the horrors of war after a Mel Gibson movie. There is NO holding back here so be warned and lock the kids in their play room. The last hour is a slaughterhouse, one in which Andrew Garfield truly shines in as an actor. It's a nice bit of acting from the one time Spider-Man.
The ending is particularly touching. I enjoyed this one.