By: Matt McDonald, Columnist
“Hacksaw Ridge” is an inspiring film directed by Mel Gibson about World War II medic Desmond Doss, a devoutly religious southern boy who wants to save soldiers from the scars of battle. Conflict arises, however, when Doss refuses to touch a gun, even to amuse the general. This brings him to court, where it is decided that he can go into battle as a medic—and nothing else. Without a weapon to defend himself, Doss runs into the hellfire of war on the top of Hacksaw Ridge.
When the movie first started, I almost didn’t believe it earned its R rating. Its light tone and subtle comedy gives it the appearance of a film not to be taken seriously. In the blink of an eye, however, it switches from colorful, innocent scenery to gritty, palpable ambushes that do not hold back. The movie not only shows the authentic brutality of war but the psychological effects on all those involved, especially the innocent.
Andrew Garfield plays a very likeable and even empathetic character. His seemingly naïve innocence and passion to stay true to who he is keeps the audience clinging to his every action and supporting him in his dedication to save every individual he can find. I would not be surprised if he got a Golden Globe or even Academy Award nomination for his role.
The one small critique I had was in the character of Sergeant Howell, played by Vince Vaughn. While Vaughn’s portrayal was not poorly done in any way, it just seemed like a discount “Full Metal Jacket.” While I felt Vaughn looked the part, when I saw him play it, I remembered: it’s still Vince Vaughn, one of the jesters of comedy. Still, his character was likable and carried some weight in the end.
This based-on-a-true-story film is the balance of innocence and mercilessness, and how one person can, despite the cliché, really make that difference. Desmond Doss received a Medal of Honor for having saved 75 soldiers without firing a shot. “Hacksaw Ridge” is a true testament to his bravery, and received an 86 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. If you’re looking for a solid movie to see during your weekend, see “Hacksaw Ridge.” 3.5/4.