Hacksaw Ridge. Where do I start with this movie? I went in thinking I would see a World War Two movie similar to the likes of Saving Private Ryan, but I was in for something more brutal and true. Hacksaw Ridge tells the story of Private Desmond T. Doss, an American army medic who refused to bear arms in combat. Doss saved seventy-five men during the Battle of Okinawa after the call came to retreat off top of the hundred foot ridge, and he stayed behind enemy lines avoiding Japanese soldiers and shelling from American and Japanese ships. He was the first Conscientious Objector to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Andrew Garfield does a remarkable job of portraying the skinny marine, bringing the true grit needed for a role like this one. He is alongside Teresa Palmer, playing Doss’s beautiful wife, Dorothy, who brings an angelic and softer sense of hope to the film. Their love story brings a sense of innocence to the film and another sense of what the reality was with couples being separated during the war. Vince Vaughn delivers a promising performance with the role of Sergeant Howell, a role that is definitely out of his comfort zone, but he provides brute humor and pathos to bring laughs and a pause for thought with a fantastically written script.
Mel Gibson makes a spectacular return from his directing hiatus to direct this war drama. He is known for the violence in movies he’s directed, and Hacksaw Ridge is no different. He combines fear, hope, and love into a movie that reminded us all what it means to have beliefs and not wanting to give them up.
The biggest thing that can be said about this movie is how Mel Gibson told this story at one of the best times he could have. Hacksaw Ridge will shock you in more ways than one, mostly because of the violence involved. I left the theater that evening very shaken up, because Gibson did a fantastic job with the cinematography and not only staying true to Doss’s story, but also staying true to what veterans actually went through during the war. I believe everyone should see this movie, especially after all of the horrible news we’ve been hearing in 2016. Desmond Doss’s mentality against all odds represents the American spirit. He shows patriotism by wanting to fight just like any other young man wanted to, but he wants to fight in his own way: by not fighting. Doss did not believe in violence, so he enlisted as a medic. He was a seventh day Adventist, so he relied mostly on God. His infantry did not trust him because he would not touch a weapon, and after nearly being court marshalled, a legal loophole was found, and he was cleared for battle.
In the end, I was crying my eyes out, not only because I had been shaken up, but the story had touched me. Desmond Doss’s sense of duty for his country brought together the love story that is with his wife, with his country, with love for God. Doss standing up for himself and not compromising his beliefs is the story most Americans will be able to relate to in some way. Once you see this movie, you will understand what it is like to stand up for what you believe in and pay the price for not backing down.