Friends, Mel Gibson is back. Hacksaw Ridge is his latest directorial effort, portraying the true story of Desmond Ross (Andrew Garfield) who was a conscientious objector who decided to enlist in the war as a medic and the first conscientious objector to win a medal of honour.
The opening shot of the film sets the grim tone of the film with an overhead shot of some dead Japanese in a bombed out No Man’s Land in Okinawa. This introduction is incredibly impactful and sets the style too, with Gibson using a stable camera in order to confront us with this war dance. After this, the first act builds up the character of Ross and his life as a child and then some time prior to his enlistment in a romantic plot that might seem familiar in this kind of film, but it’s well done and not dragged out. There is also his basic training and the conflict there as a result of his beliefs and finally, they reach Okinawa.
The battle scenes in this film are a dance of death and have an unflinching commitment to realistic violence on the level of Saving Private Ryan. It is brilliantly shot, everything is easy to see and is such an incredible spectacle in both violence and emotion and even the smallest roles are invested with great depth and believability, with the performances being tremendous all round. The entirety of the Okinawa portion of the film has an almost Homeric quality to it. The first time up on the ridge for the company also has a horror vibe, with a thick smokey haze that you can almost smell and feel engulfed by and pans to lost limbs and spilt intestines on the ground.
This is going to be a short review since I very much liked the film and it’s something that must be seen. While it’s narrative structure is fairly conventional, the film is simply incredible, filled with heroism and the thrill of battle. This film is an instant classic and you should all go see it this weekend.