Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
9/10
Like a Doss!
18 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
For well over a year now I have been waiting with baited breath to see this movie. I have been a fan of Desmond Doss from a child. Having the privilege of the movie being filmed in my neck of the woods, and even getting to watch some of the scenes being filmed and meeting Mel in the process (ever so briefly), escalated my enthusiasm. When you are that pumped and euphoric, you are usually deflated when the moment finally comes… but not this time.

Although there were a few aspects of the story that were not as accurate as I would have liked, I realize poetic licence is necessary in some ways to give the real essence of the story. And truth can be so much harder to believe then fiction sometimes. Mel managed to portray the man Doss so very well. Some people are worried this is a religious propaganda/anti-gun movie and I assure you that is not the message of it at all. However there is no getting past the truth of who he was and it is the reason the story is so powerful. He was a man with an unmovable moral compass and it doesn't matter if you don't point yours in the same direction, you can't help but respect him for his courage, bravery, and unwavering faith.

The movie starts laying the background of the man that will be the hero of Hacksaw Ridge. It is both witty and endearing. Andrew Garfield nails the roll as the gentle scarecrow of a man. He is a bit gawky and yet charming. His accent is true to the real Desmond, awkward though it is at times. He really draws you into the character and shows you what a fighter he was, non-violent but a fighter just the same. It is well explained what personal experiences have lead him to his discussion to not touch a gun.

Hugo Weaving masterfully plays Desmond's alcoholic dad, battling with his demons from WWI, and Rachel Griffiths plays his devoted Christian mother trying to hold them all together. Teresa Palmer plays Dorothy, a nurse that captures Desmond's heart. Sometimes cheesy, but then again in reality it would have been, and it is very amusing to watch. Teresa's Dorothy is a beautiful and charming addition to the movie.

Vince Vaughn plays the roll of Drill Sergeant Howell. He adds humour with his name calling, and humiliation of the soldiers, but is a very genuine - just a guy trying to win a war and keep his men alive in the process - kind of guy. Luke Bracey is a fantastic addition to the cast as private Smitty, the more traditional war story soldier.

True to his reputation Mel does not hold back with the battle scenes. The devastation is already extensive and the ground strewn with bits of bodies by the time the 77th arrives. The shattering reality of war is dizzying and full of impact, moving so quickly you can barely identify the characters in a whirlwind of panic, pain and death. But amidst the chaos, Desmond Doss's character is revealed to everyone and even his harshest critics realize how wrong they were about him. Watching the story change from having the battalion hate him so much that they try to have him imprisoned, to refusing to go on the battlefield without him, is so moving and inspiring it leaves "It's A Wonderful Life" in the carnage on the hill, getting eaten by maggots along with the dead soldiers Desmond sifts through looking for "one more" soul to save.
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