My Review of Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

No Spoilers, but there is a basic overview of the plot.

I was lucky enough to see an early screening of this film at Empire Live, which took place a few weeks ago at The O2 Arena.

I must admit I knew very little of the subject matter before entering. All I knew was that this was a war film, as well as being Mel Gibson’s first directorial effort since 2006’s Apocalypto.

So I settled in… And when I walked out 2 hours later, I realised I just saw a film that will go down in history as, not just a great war film, but one of the most memorable and lasting films ever made in the history of world cinema.

Hacksaw Ridge is quite possibly one of the greatest films ever made and, in my humble opinion, is a more accomplished war film than Saving Private Ryan.

(Yes, I really did just write that.)

Mel Gibson has now firmly placed himself within the cabal of Hollywood elite directors, and the skill he brings here is next to none. From the character scenes in small town America to the brutal violence of the Pacific battlefield, Gibson moves his camera with confidence and consummate elegance.

The story itself follows the journey of Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield) and his desire to join the military to defend his homeland from the rage of Japanese imperialism. But there’s a catch… He’s a pacifist.

While at first his decision to enlist seems ridiculous, you can’t help getting caught up with this young man’s desire to fight for his country and still hold firm to his moral code.

Garfield is ably supported by a strong supporting cast with standout performances from both Sam Worthington and Vince Vaughn. (In the case of Vaughn, this is first “serious” role I’ve seen him in since 1996’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and man does he deliver!)

While the film has the most literal third act structure I’ve seen since Peter Jackson’s King Kong, the length of time taken in building up Doss and his comrades pays off in spades as they are thrown into a perilous situation on the scale of the Normandy Landings.

The only (mild) criticism that I can offer is that the role of Dorothy Schutte, Doss’ wife (played excellently by Teresa Palmer) is rather superfluous to the overall needs of the plot. But as this is a WWII film, that is somewhat to be expected.

Nonetheless, my recommendation for this film cannot be any higher. This is THE film to see of 2016 and I might be early, but I’m calling it now: Mel Gibson is GUARANTEED a Best Director Oscar.

Overall Score:

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