Hacksaw Ridge is the latest hard-punching, filthy war drama by Mel Gibson. The film follows Andrew Garfield as Desmond Doss, a real-life war hero who became the first figure in U.S. history to achieve the Medal of Honour without firing a single shot during the battle of Okinawa. Due to Desmonds religious beliefs he abstains from holding a weapon in the battle field. The film opens up with a slow montage of war footage, preparing us for the last hour of the film. We watch the soldiers battling simultaneously in slow-motion and in a close-up, the cinematography by Simon Duggan superbly capturing the gruesome, non-stop and heart aching battle sequences which will undoubtedly make it difficult to turn your eyes away. We often perceive long and wide shots of the battlefield, Duggan and Gibson evidently tried to capture every movement and moment of the ghastly scenes of the war. Prior to the battle sequences, the films dialogue tends to throw off cheesy lines which may put off some spectators. If the film had come out in the early 90s, there would be no qualms around Hacksaw Ridge’s multiple Oscar nominations, and Gibson would have been praised for his authentic sequences. Hugo Weaving’s performance as Tom Doss is extraordinary as he rages and reminisces of the horror of the first World War and the friends he lost; trauma that has resulted in him becoming hostile and despondent and curving into alcoholism. The film is not as subtle as Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, rather it melds between violence and old-fashioned drama. Gibson is certainly a promising director. He incorporates macabre themes from Apocalypto (2006) and anticipates graphic and brutal scenes from his earlier film The Passion of the Christ (2004). The final segment of the film is perhaps one of the most extraordinary moments in cinema, proving that Desmond is a real hero. This film is a gratifying, popcorn-munching war film with some memorable sequences. If you do not appreciate this one, then his ferocious, blood and gore, slaughtering habits of filmmaking will prove people wrong in his upcoming Passion of the Christ sequel.

★★★

 

Amir Ibrahim

Image: Vox

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