There is no doubt that actor/director Mel Gibson has said things in the past that are hard to agree with. Nevertheless, the now sixty year old Gibson has one thing everyone can agree on: a golden eye for cinema as one of our best actor/directors alive today. While Hacksaw Ridge may not be his best film, it is still solid proof this man has vast gift to share with the world.
The movie tells the true story of World War Two soldier Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield, showing again he has more chops than we may think when it comes to screen acting). After a childhood incident, he vows never to be violent again, even when it comes to his drunk father (Hugo Weaving), a veteran of the first World War.
After his older brother Hal (Nathaniel Buzolic) enlists, Desmond decides to do the same but on one condition: he plans to go as a medic, not at all wanting to carry a gun. We see him in training camp and meet Sgt. Howell (Vince Vaughn, who, I admit, it took me a few minutes to realize he can act dramatic when given a good role to portray). We do get the generic montage of training, with thrown in bits of how none of the soldiers (or officers) want someone around not willing to defend himself, let alone his fellow soldiers. The Superior Officers even try to use a technicality to get to Doss, so he can’t even leave camp to marry his girlfriend Dorothy (Teresa Palmer).
When we do get to the battle scenes (which take place at Hacksaw Ridge in Japan), it is refreshing to realize that Gibson can still deliver the goods. Never one to shy away from violence, the movie gets into the deep gritty mud of war and delivers the true details of war.
That being said, parents, the movie is Rated R mainly for the violence (though the fact that Mel Gibson is directing it should have given that much away). There is swearing, but none that a High Schooler has not heard before, and no real sexual content (we see Desmond and Dorothy kiss before implied sex, but nothing is shown). Basically, the movie gets its R rating from the violence, which is the same of any other great war movie. High School and above are ok.
Early this year, while seeing the remake of Ben-Hur (a movie I wish I did not have to bring up again), I mentioned how I like Christian cinema if it is done correctly. Gibson gives us a solid christian story, and one that is not completly sappy. That is rare fr a movie with a christian atmosphere. Hacksaw Ridge gives us something also rare for a movie with a christian atmosphere. It gives us something entertaining.
Overall: Four Stars ****