October 28, 2016 10 min to read
Hacksaw Ridge (Advanced Screening) Review
Category : Uncategorized
“It was Doss, Sir!”
Release Date: November 4th, Late Thursday showing on November 3rd
I honestly think I saw this trailer at one of the other advanced screenings I saw this year, probably an elevation pictures screening, as they’re the same company. And of course, since it was World War 2, I was hooked. I was also intrigued to see Andrew Garfield in something other than The Amazing Spider-Man, and go back to his more dramatic roots like Never Let Me Go (2010) and The Social Network (2010). I was also surprised to see Mel Gibson’s name on the director card, he kinda disappeared after that huge, ridiculous outburst a couple years ago. Could this film be what he needs for a comeback?
Hacksaw Ridge is Biography, Drama, Romance, and War film about a World War 2 army medic by the name of Desmond Doss, who fought in the battle of Okinawa. Twist is, he refuses to carry a gun and kill anyone, but as he is a medic, he’s able to help his fellow comrades, and in turn he became the first Conscientious Objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
This movie hooks you with the subject matter, it was really interesting to see the lead up to the actual war scenes. There is a hell of a lot of character development, and we really get to learn the background of Desmond Doss, he felt real, which is really what this movie had to go for being based on his life in the service and all, and the sacrifices he made.
As I stated earlier, the film is directed by Mel Gibson, who is well known for his acting roles I would say as much as his directing chops. Since he’s not acting in this movie, I’ll keep his acting filmography down to a minimum and focus more on his directing credits. But his acting filmography consists of the Mad Max trilogy (1979, 1981, 1985), The Lethal Weapon franchise (1987,1989, 1992, 1998), Braveheart (1995), and Signs (2002). His directing filmography consists of such films as Braveheart (1995), The Passion Of The Christ (2004), and Apocalypto (2006). So Hacksaw Ridge would be the first film he has directed in about 10 years. This is probably the best film he’s ever directed, and thats saying a lot from the other films he’s directed. He has a really weird eye for interesting camera angles and camera work, he’s able to take something so small and minuscule and make it beautiful. Thats the sign of a great director to me, every detail is ironed out. He also does a lot of interesting things when the scene is extremely chaotic and the camera doesn’t know where to be, he does quick cuts and long pauses to create tension. I honestly had my heart in my throat for the last half of the movie, I was on the edge of my seat. Gibson was able to do what Steven Spielberg did in Saving Private Ryan (1999), which I felt Hacksaw Ridge shared a lot of common ground with when it came to how the movie was filmed, especially in the battle sequences. They were essentially able to re-create the theatres of war, they were able to give us stark realism in the violence and how the artillery and weaponry worked. There were times where I actually squirmed at how realistic the violence was, which is the same as what I did in the landing sequence in Normandy during the opening moves of D-Day in Saving Private Ryan. Its just amazing, how Gibson made me feel like I was there, that I knew these characters, that I was along for the ride.
The writers of Hacksaw Ridge is Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan. Andrew Knight wrote the movie The Water Diviner (2014) which starred Russell Crowe, which I received for christmas last year, but didn’t watch it yet. I also don’t recognize any of his other films he’s written in his filmography. Robert Schenkkan on the other hand wrote 4 episodes of the series The Andromeda Strain (2008) and 4 episodes of the series The Pacific (2010). I haven’t seen The Andromeda Strain, but The Pacific was one of the best mini-series I’ve ever seen and its nice to see Schenkkan returning to the war genre of filmmaking, especially doing a film in the same theatre of war as The Pacific. I honestly need to watch The Water Diviner and The Pacific again after watching Hacksaw Ridge, because holy crap the writing was well done. There was genuinely heart-wrenching moments where we are with Desmond where he fights first at home to protect his family and then when he fights in Okinawa, heart-warming moments of laughter and love when he was trying to woo a young nurse, and it was more than just an experience to me. The great direction would be nothing without the great writing, and I feel like on this front (see what i did there?) Knight and Schenkkan definitely succeed.
Hacksaw Ridge stars Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer, Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington and Hugo Weaving, amongst many many others.
Andrew Garfield plays Desmond T. Doss in Hacksaw Ridge. Garfield’s other film roles consist of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009), Never Let Me Go (2010), The Social Network (2010), The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014). I’ll admit, after seeing a fair bit of these movies, and enjoying his portrayal of Spider-Man, I was weirded out at the choosing of Andrew Garfield to be in a war movie, I didn’t see him the type of actor for the job, I thought of him as too innocent and too “handsome” to play that kind of role. I’m glad to say I was wrong on that. He was able to play the part of Desmond Doss so well, that I forgot that I was watching a movie. I was whisked away to Virginia and Okinawa and I was an onlooker to everything, I thought I was watching the real Desmond at parts. For an actor to truly transcend the art of storytelling and art and deliver a performance as well as this one is something special. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Andrew Garfield be nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of Desmond in this film, he has definitely earned it.
Teresa Palmer stars as Dorothy Schutte. Her filmography consists of The Grudge 2 (2006), Warm Bodies (2013), Point Break (2015), Triple 9 (2016), and Lights Out (2016). Palmer has definitely made a name for herself over the past year, being in a really cool heist movie – Triple 9, being in a genuinely creepy and unsettling horror movie – Lights Out and now starring in a really well told war movie story, she’s done the trifecta. I thought she played this role really well, and I really liked her portrayal of the character of Dorothy
Vince Vaughn I think everyone has heard of, but he plays Sergeant Howell. His filmography consists of roles such as – Rudy (1993), Swingers (1996), The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), The Cell (2000), Old School (2003), Starsky & Hutch (2004), Wedding Crashers (2005), Into The Wild (2007), and 8 episodes of season 2 of HBO’s True Detective. Shit (I don’t like to curse in my reviews, but this is on the only way I can really express my feelings about him in this movie and how to never go into a movie with assumptions)… what can I even say about Vaughn in this movie. This was without a doubt, Vince Vaughn’s best role, and he even stole the spotlight from Andrew Garfield in a couple of different scenes. I always saw him as the big, funny clown guy, but after Hacksaw Ridge… the man can act, he has great training and he can really do anything. I think that his comedic background delivered some moments of great dialogue with his timing. Definitely was a great addition to this movie. When I first saw his name I was like really? Vince Vaughn in a war drama? Andrew… you should stop assuming and making an ass out of yourself. I’m definitely interested to see how Vaughn follows this one up.
Sam Worthington plays Captain Glover. His filmography consists of Rogue (2007), The Debt (2010), Texas Killing Fields (2011), Man on a Ledge (2012), Sabotage (2014), and Everest (2015). He was also in Pocahontas with wolvegully (AKA, Avatar (2009). Honestly, I was never a huge fan of Worthington as an actor, I felt like he was really cardboard-y and very stiff. I’ve never particularly liked him in any of his movies, and no, not just because I hated Avatar. He did quite well in this movie however, He still seemed a bit stiff sometimes, but I think he had to be a bit because of him playing the Captain of the platoon. He couldn’t be loosy-goosy or the character would’ve been a pushover.
Last but certainly not least, we have the man the myth, the legend – Mr. Hugo Weaving as Tom Doss. Hugo Weaving’s other iconic roles consist of Proof (1991), The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert (1994), The Matrix (1999), The Lord of The Rings trilogy (2001-2003), The Matrix Revolutions (2003), The Matrix Reloaded (2003), V For Vendetta (2005), Transformers franchise – he voices Megatron (2007, 2009, 2011), Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), Cloud Atlas (2012) and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) and The Hobbit The Battle of Five Armies (2014). Weaving is a fantastic actor, I’ve never seen any film of his that I didn’t like, and thats saying something. I will genuinely go out of my way to see a film that he is in. It was really interesting to see him play the role of Tom Doss, Desmond’s father. Weaving played a war torn World War I veteran that was an alcoholic and wasn’t really a great fatherly character, and who could blame him after the horrendous acts and battles of the first World War? He just played the role so well and it was definitely interesting to see him shake up his acting chops.
This is a really weird thing to say, but the violence in this movie was extremely realistic and just gory and extremely graphic, which is really what it should be. War movies shouldn’t glorify the war violence, but it can’t tip toe around and not portray the extreme violence and bloodshed that wars take from the troops. It was able to convey what it needed to in this theatre of war. It definitely earned it’s R rating. And fair warning to those interested, it isn’t for the faint of heart. Limbs get blown off, and you see the remains of legs that have just been blasted by frag grenades. Fair Warning, its R for a reason!
The sound design in this movie was extremely impressive, definitely oscar worthy in sound mixing and sound editing departments. The lead up to the scenes on Hacksaw Ridge were rigid and it made you feel oddly comfortable. You got used to the ambient noises and it was somewhat peaceful. In the scenes with basic training, the camera would be focused on two of the characters and off screen you’d hear the witnesses comments like “get him man!” or “watch out!” that kind of commentary, and there was actual dialogue going on. I thought it was a unique touch to the sound of the film, I’m sure other movies have done it but I haven’t taken notice until now. The scenes on Hacksaw Ridge were something spectacular. The explosions, ricochets of gunshots, gunshots, the dragging of wounded, the yelling. It was all just layered so perfectly, it was quite the sound to be heard.
Last but not least, the cinematography in this movie deserves a mention, because it was breath taking. Through the scenes where Desmond and Dorothy would go hiking, to the scenes on Hacksaw Ridge, the cinematography was absolutely breathtaking.
Honestly, I don’t know what else to say about this movie. It has inspired me to go do some reading on Desmond T. Doss and learn about him, because i’d love to hear more about his story. I’d also like to see, to settle my history background, how accurate the film was. But everything around this movie was masterfully crafted from the directing all the way down the line. Mr. Gibson, you needed a comeback, and this is the comeback you got. Welcome back to Hollywood, and I’m genuinely intrigued to see what you direct next.
Hacksaw Ridge gets a 5/5 from me.
If you like true stories, war stories, war movies, true events, or just like the actors…look no further than Hacksaw Ridge. It’ll swoop you in and not let you go for 2 hours. This movie is extremely powerful, and I cannot wait to see it again.
Until Next Time!
Oscar Predictions for Hacksaw Ridge in 2017:
Best Director – Mel Gibson
Best Actor In a Leading Role – Andrew Garfield
i have my name out for 2 more advanced screenings for Bad Santa 2 and Moonlight, so hopefully I’ll win those and have some more reviews for you soon!