★★★★★ – “Brutally honest, an engrossing masterpiece.”

Hacksaw Ridge is directed by Mel Gibson and stars Andrew Garfield, Richard Pyros, Jacob Warner, Milo Gibson, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving and Rachel Griffiths.

Based on the incredible true story, WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people and becomes the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot.

It’s taken me a while to digest Mel Gibson’s brutal epic Hacksaw Ridge, roaring with fire and an undying courage shown in Garfield’s deeply rooted portrayal of Desmond T. Doss, but at this point after sitting on time for a moment, I can safely say that this is one of most carefully crafted war films I have ever had the pleasure to, in some ways, endure.

Andrew Garfield’s performance in this film is bitterly convincing, gripping the viewer with a biting display of emotion shown within the conscientious objector. A background of Doss’ life is shown within the first 20 minutes, which aids his character and helps the viewer connect with his many decisions that occur during the heavily textured battle, leading to saving 75 lives on the front line. Not only does Garfield provide an emotional core, he goes through all kinds of hell, crawling between the gruesome display of the fallen and wounded.

It would be all for nothing, however, without Gibson’s skilful direction. He and cinematographer Simon Duggan capture the Art, Special Effects and Stunt department’s hard work with eyes of an eagle, utilising smart camera set-ups that assist the unravelling chaos and destruction unfolding around the cast.

The supporting cast of Luke Bracey, Richard Pyros, Jacob Warner, Teresa Palmer and Vince Vaughn are truly wonderful. Each individual provides a delightful back-and-fourth between themselves and Garfield. Vaughn breaks from his comedic persona (almost entirely) and shines light on a new side to his acting abilities. Many of his scenes are smartly written and engaging, whilst finding the perfect time to improvise his lines, adding a much-needed comic relief. Hugo Weaving is incredible in one of his best roles yet. Delivering a powerhouse performance that ties with Garfield’s, showcasing several layers of hate, sadness and regret, detailed beautifully in his fine acting.

Original music by Rupert Gregson-Williams is satisfactory, though missing something of great importance; distraught emotion. It’s great at filling the gaps with heroic themes, but I never felt moved by the score in any huge way. In the final moments of the film I do admit to have felt hopeful and ‘pumped’ but I thought the score had an absence of fear and angst. However, I believe the space is filled with an impeccably thorough bed of sound, expertly created by the Sound Department and adeptly mixed and edited, earning 2 Academy Award nominations.

The battle sequences are intricate and complex, captured beautifully in-camera and driven by highly intense and scary situations that spring up out of nowhere. It’s a tough experience to get through, but it’s undeniably well put together, seriously powerful and absolutely worth it.

Verdict; Hacksaw Ridge is riveting and bathed in gore, however, underneath the brutality is a fine true story of survival and heroism.

Hacksaw Ridge – ★★★★★ (9/10)

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