Hacksaw Ridge


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Hacksaw Ridge
"Gibson has an eye for a good story and knows how to lay it on with a trowel"

Boy, does America need a hero right now!

Step up Mel Who Fell (from grace after insulting the chosen race) Gibson who gave us bloody Jesus (The Passion Of The Christ) and the jungle chase movie (Apocalypto).

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Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) is in the Audie Murphy class of courage beyond the call except he's not a killer, he's a conscientious objector and front line medic in the war against Japan.

You have been here before (Hamburger Hill, The Thin Red Line) when a dug-in mountain top has to be conquered with the loss of you-name-it numbers. Why don't they go round the back? At least in Saving Private Ryan they had no choice.

Doss is a gauche young man from a dysfunctional family stuck in the sticks. His father is an abusive drunk and his mother Rachel Griffiths. After confronting the old man during one of his beat-the-shit-outta-mom episodes and threatens him with a pistol he swears never to touch a weapon again and so joins the army after Pearl Harbor to be bullied rotten at boot camp by, of all people, Vince (Swingers) Vaughn doing his Full Metal Jacket impersonation.

Already the film is feeling flat and fake. Doss meets a nurse (Teresa Palmer) in the local hospital who is so lovely it hurts and within minutes they are engaged. He is attacked for his beliefs in the barracks and yet hangs in there while director Gibson collects a clutch of cliches and hurls them at the screen.

What's next? The war and the wall. In order to capture Okinawa the Americans have to scale an 80ft cliff and take Hacksaw Ridge. Luckily someone has fixed rope netting across its face to make it easier for the soldiers to get up. Were the Japs asleep, or didn't they have swords sharp enough to cut down this climbing aid. Who fixed it there in the first place?

What follows is a collage of ugly, brutal battle scenes that are so OTT they defy belief. Gibson loves this kind of thing - remember the gore in Braveheart? - and cannot resist adding yukky details such as rats lunching off dead bodies (during a battle?) and maggots spewing like fizzy sick from a fresh scull.

Doss saved over 75 wounded men from Hacksaw Ridge after the others had been forced back down the cliff. That takes more than a trust in God, or a refusal to bear arms.

Gibson has an eye for a good story and knows how to lay it on with a trowel although his passions appear artificial as does the choreography of violence.

"You better come home to me," the beautiful nurse whispers as the new recruits leave. She could have been Jane Wyman in a Fifties weepie.

Reviewed on: 26 Jan 2017
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Hacksaw Ridge packshot
An act of supreme bravery by a conscientious objecting junior medic in the battle for Okinawa
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Director: Mel Gibson

Writer: Robert Schenkkan, Andrew Knight

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Ben O'Toole, Richard Roxburgh, Robert Morgan

Year: 2016

Runtime: 139 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Australia, US


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