Dan Zalewski III
During a week full of patriotic spirit and American ideals, it’s only appropriate that a movie as American as “Hacksaw Ridge” came out.
Mel Gibson’s first directed film since 2006’s “Apocalypto”, “Hacksaw Ridge” recounts the heroic actions of America’s first Medal of Honor recipient who was a conscientious objector. Doss enlisted himself in the United States’ military contrary to his beliefs because he felt a sense of duty toward his country.
It features Andrew Garfield in the lead role with a slew of supporting actors, such as Hugo Weaving, Teresa Palmer, Michael Sheasby, Luke Pegler, and Vince Vaughn along with numerous others. The lengthy cast only added to the film, as each actor’s performance fit the wide variety of roles required for the film.
The movie starts where any other movie would, the beginning. The film recounts Desmond’s childhood and shows just how he came to hold the conviction that he did. This includes setting up secondary storylines, such as a love interest, and describing his relationship with his father.
Compared to other World War 2 movies, such as “Saving Private Ryan” or the more recent “Fury”, the movie starts off slow. “Hacksaw Ridge” allows more time to build up Desmond’s decision to enlist, whereas in “Saving Private Ryan”, the second scene is on Omaha beach. This is a positive to the overall effect of the movie as the audience gets a chance to make a stronger connection with Desmond himself, but may cause people’s attention to waver slightly in the beginning.
After the rising action, the movie makes up for the wait once it reaches the battle scenes. The actual combat scenes in “Hacksaw Ridge” are some of the bloodiest, most intense scenes that will be found in a war movie. The scenes are quick paced and loud. The movie does not pull any graphical punches and gives you a very gruesome depiction of what the war was like in the Pacific Theater.
However, the movie does break up the action sequences with well drawn out moments of tension and suspense. There are many incidents where Desmond is forced to hide or run from danger while deep behind enemy lines. This, coupled with a few well placed jump scares, creates a rush of adrenaline at the most unexpected times, which worked to contrast against the constant excitement of battle scenes.
Overall the movie is good and worth watching. The pacing is slow at times, but is not backbreaking for the overall film. While it is not as good as “Saving Private Ryan”, it will likely make a similar lasting mark. If this movie is on AMC or HBO while you are skipping through the channels, you’ll likely have little choice but to stop and watch it, but you will likely not go out of your way to see it in theaters a dozen times.