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May 3, 2017

Hacksaw Ridge (2016) --- "One Man Helps Stop A War Without Firing A Single Bullet."

Plot Summary
Hacksaw Ridge is about Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield) became the first Conscientious Objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor, even though he refused to kill or even carry a rifle while serving as a medic during the Battle of Okinawa in World War II. Doss' phenomenal story of courage saw him single-handedly save the lives of over 75 of his comrades while under constant enemy fire.

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
     When we think about war films, some come to mind such as Apocalypse Now, Platoon or Saving Private Ryan. Most war films use a specific battle in history and tell a fictional story – which is the case for the ‘aforementioned films. However, a true war film for me becomes something else entirely when it tells a true story, especially one as remarkable as the story of Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield) in Hacksaw Ridge.
     Considering that very few films this year have hit me emotionally as Hacksaw Ridge did, this means that you have to make something special and Mel Gibson has delivered. Despite attracting a lot of bad press over the years no one can deny that Gibson is a good director. And as he returns to the director’s chair for Hacksaw Ridge, he may just have made his best film yet. Hacksaw Ridge is a powerfully emotional true story that Gibson has brought to life by adding a touch of humanistic quality, anti-war themes, and brutality to the horrors of war to much great detail. The production design (Barry Robison), sound mixing (Rupert Gregson-Williams), and film editing (John Gilbert) of the battle sequence is intensely horrifying as it is respectful to the details and real-life experiences of soldiers during WWII. However, it was filmed with beautiful and brutal detailing that echoes much to the opening battle sequence from Saving Private Ryan's, and we see this through the incredible cinematography of Simon Duggan. during both halves of the film that both sufficiently tell the story of the determined individual that is Desmond Doss. The 1st half introduces us to Doss as it explores his personal life and motivations for choosing to become a Conscientious Objector and serve as an army medic. The 2nd half is darker as it focuses on the brutal Battle of Okinawa at Hacksaw Ridge, the site of one of the bravest human feats in history.
     In terms of acting, the cast as a whole it is incredible. Andrew Garfield, who portrays Desmond T. Doss, gives one of his best performances and it is great to see him grow as an actor. He brings the audience along Doss' journey with a feeling of having experienced the journey himself and demonstrates the wide range of emotions Doss endured along with his journey. Garfield must have given much study and preparation for the role, as his character's journey from a wise simple man to a hero of his army is given so much heart, emotion and bravery to make the journey of Doss so believable. The supporting cast adds depth and they all play their part in excelling the film. Teresa Palmer, as the future Dorothy Doss, balances Desmond’s personality quite nicely. Sam Worthington and Luke Bracey were your typical go-to soldiers but it was interesting to see them go against the main protagonist and then ultimately learn to respect his point of view.
     Two supporting characters, whom I found to be most interesting, is Vince Vaughn’s portrayal of humorous Doss’ training sergeant and Hugo Weaving’s lasting psychological impact for those who survive conflict as Doss’ father Tom Doss. Vaughn provides humor and pity that brings both laughter and pause-for-thought at well-scripted points of the tale. And taking into account how serious everyone else is, it was nice to have some comic relief through Vaughn’s character. Weaving’s performance is emotional and heartbreaking. Being a veteran from WWI – whose lines could serve as a mouthpiece for many veterans – he is plagued by the horrors of war and the fact that while he survived, his best friends did not. When Desmond decides to enlist, Tom is angry but also scared. Scared that his son may experience the same fate his friends did or turn out like him; just a shadow of the man he once was. And although he is scared, he realizes that since he was never the father his sons deserved, maybe there something he can do to help Desmond; do something for someone other than himself and hopefully have a sense of peace.
     Overall, Hacksaw Ridge is not a film for the faint-hearted, and while war and violence are not glorified in this film they are also not put down. Showcasing elements of conflict that draw in the audience – the heroism of overcoming adversity, the bonding of soldiers, and the brave resolve on which soldiers must rely to perform their duty amidst such chaos and terror. Besides only focusing the horror, the madness, and the terror of war, the audience is given a back-story into Doss’ personal lifestyle. Hacksaw Ridge is in no way a popcorn-lazy-Sunday-afternoon film, it is an emotional masterpiece and by the end, viewers will be left with a feeling of both exhaustion and admiration for having experienced Doss' journey; one of hope, innocence, love, confusion, anger, faith, and courage. This is a must see film if you have an interest in history or if you love a solid war film that's true to its core, one that cannot be so readily forgotten.

“I don't know how I'm going to live with myself if I don't stay true to what I believe.”
- Doss

Final Vote
Worth Seeing:  5 of 5 stars
Worth Buying:  5 of 5 stars

I hope you liked this post, subscribe to my blog via email HERE, send in your comments, and watch Hacksaw Ridge (2016).

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Cast & Crew

Directed by: Mel Gibson

Writing Credits: (Screenplay) Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight.

Produced by 

     (Line Producer) Barbara Gibbs.

     (Associate Producer) Joel Kramer and Gabe Videla.



Andrew Garfield --- Desmond Doss
Richard Pyros --- Teach
Jacob Warner --- James Pinnick
Milo Gibson --- Lucky Ford
Darcy Bryce --- Young Desmond
Roman Guerriero --- Young 'Hal' Doss
Hugo Weaving --- Tom Doss
Rachel Griffiths --- Bertha Doss
Teresa Palmer --- Dorothy Schutte
Nathaniel Buzolic --- Harold 'Hal' Doss
Simon Edds --- MP Gibbs
Thatcher McMaster --- Company B Soldier
Charles Jacobs --- Private Webb
Dennis Kreusler --- Sergeant Amos
Firass Dirani --- Vito Rinnelli
Michael Sheasby --- Tex Lewis
Luke Pegler --- Hollywood Zane
Ben Mingay --- Grease Nolan
Luke Bracey --- Smitty Ryker
Nico Cortez --- Wal Kirzinski
Goran D. Kleut --- Ghoul
Harry Greenwood --- Henry Brown
Damien Thomlinson --- Ralph Morgan
Ben O'Toole --- Corporal Jessop
Vince Vaughn --- Sgt Howell
Sam Worthington --- Captain Glover
Josh Dean Williams --- Private Perry
Andrew Sears --- Private Maguire
Jim Robison --- Private Bates
Nathan Baird --- Private Green
Samuel R. Wright --- Private Dixon
Mikael Koski --- Private Giles
Troy Pickering --- Private Tyler
James Moffett --- Private Lewis
Richard Roxburgh --- Colonel Stelzer
John Cannon --- Corporal Cannon
Robert Morgan --- Colonel Sangston
Bill Young --- General Musgrove
Benedict Hardie --- Captain Daniels
Ryan Corr --- Lieutenant Manville
Ori Pfeffer --- Irv Schecter
Sean Lynch --- Popeye

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