Mel Gibson’s latest project is nothing short of epic. “Hacksaw Ridge” tells the true story of Desmond Doss, an army medic in World War II, who became the first conscientious objector to ever win the Medal of Honor. Doss, played by Andrew Garfield, enlists in the army and is immediately faced with adversity due to his religious beliefs. Having made a promise to God that he wouldn’t touch a weapon, Doss is verbally and physically attacked by the men in his camp. After being made an army medic, Doss and his company attempt to take Hacksaw Ridge, an area under Japanese control. During the fight Doss singlehandedly saves the lives of over 75 men, earning him the Medal of Honor.
The film is so intricate and takes on so many different paths that you would think it would be convoluted or dense, but Gibson is able to deftly weave from one subject to the next. The film manages to be an endearing love story, a courtroom drama, a personal battle with family values and a complete war epic. At no point does anything feel out of place or unearned. Every moment is tense and every action carries weight. Gibson manages to put viewers on the edges of their seats for all two hours and leaves them breathless at the end.
The movie is remarkably sound in nearly every way. Technically, it’s incredibly well put together. The sound and visuals draw the viewer in and showcase the ugliness of war with grit and blood laced in every moment. The effects are flawless and help to illuminate the brutal battle the men face. Great movies are technically sound but they have something else as well. They have real emotion, something this film has in spades.
Behind a medley of outstanding performances, notably Hugo Weaving, the film meets the brutality of warfare with human emotion. Doss’ entire journey is fraught with the barbarity of war and the effects war has on men. His faith is tested at every turn and watching him struggle with his beliefs is nearly as heart-wrenching as watching the intense scenes of war.
Mel Gibson has crafted a nearly perfect film that could fit into many genres but will satisfy any moviegoer. “Hacksaw Ridge” is a masterpiece. It manages to be a technical gem while still delivering one of the most emotional personal journeys on film. The story of Desmond Doss is incredible in itself, but under Gibson’s steady hand, it becomes a tale of human triumph and sacrifice that can’t be missed.