Posted Feb 12, 2017
Mel Gibson has been away for a while. It’s been 10 years since the release of the Mayan spectacle Acopalypto (2006), and in that time Gibson hasn’t done much for his favourability in Hollywood. Personal opinion aside (mine is somewhat less kind than others) Gibson certainly knows how to produce a massive Hollywood movie. His latest addition, Hacksaw Ridge is no different in that it is an epic, gargantuan scale spectacle telling the story of a very humble, quietly incredible human being.
Hacksaw Ridge stars Andrew Garfield (The Social Network, The Amazing Spiderman) Teresa Palmer (I am Number Four, Warm Bodies), Vince Vaughan (Swingers, The Lost World) and Sam Worthington (Avatar, Clash of the Titans) and is Mel Gibsons eagerly anticipated return to the bright lights of Hollywood. It tells the story of Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector in WWII who saved the lives of over 50 men during the battle of Okinawa without firing a single bullet.
While I really enjoyed parts of Hacksaw Ridge and would certainly recommend it to many, especially as an original war film that tells a story that needs to be told, I get the feeling that it could have been told a lot better in the hands of a more accomplished director and one without an obvious agenda. It’s a splendid romp with incredible action scenes, grimace inducing violence and a very raw and real portrayal of the spoils of battle. Gibson certainly handles this element of the film with strong hands that grip you tightly until the closing credits, the issue is that he doesn’t really seem to have the same handle on the rest of the film. The performances are to be revered though, Andrew Garfield is a star turn proving once again that he is becoming an important player in the big game of modern cinema. This is most definitely a fine addition to his C.V. Worth a mention also is the entertaining as ever Vince Vaughan, and newcomer Luke Bracey. I was yet to be graced by a performance of his, but I will be looking out for him in the future. Playing a character you hate at first but grow to love, he handles the action-man role with real aplomb. A talent that I look forward to seeing more of.
Hacksaw Ridge is a film that seems confused with what it wants to be, without spoiling anything, I felt that it spent an hour setting us up to really empathise with Doss, to fall in love with him and his relationship with his wife (Moore) and to really feel an attachment to the pair, sparking a concern and fear of loss or heartbreak. Sadly we don’t get a resolution to this we would perhaps need, I got the feeling that Gibson started to run out of time/money/both and had to bring the film to a close quickly once the battle of Hacksaw Ridge was over. I was enjoying the story of Desmond T Doss a lot more than I was enjoying the gratuitous violence and bloodshed Gibson so obviously enjoyed directing. Cutesy and syrup covered as they were, the relationships Doss had with his family and wife were something I would like to have seen how the spoils of war had an effect on them, not an unnecessary scene of Doss praying by the side of battle and then fading to black whilst the batallion rush back in to war.
Undoubtedly an impressive achievement, Hacksaw Ridge is, as previously mentioned, perhaps a really incredible story that did deserve to be told, just perhaps in the hands of a more capable director with less of an agenda. I got the feeling that Gibsons personal views got in the way of the story and I really did not like the portrayal of the Japanese, whom once again the powers of Hollywood portray in a really dim light and treat them as almost savages. There were scenes depicting the rushing Japanese soldiers, that almost needed the theme of the Uruk Hai from The Lord of the Rings trilogy! It was as though Gibson thought them to be tyrannical orcs hungry for blood. This is of course not the case and they are people too doing what they had to do in a time of war, something Hollywood and Gibson seemingly forget.