Director: Mel Gibson
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey
Release Date: February 21, 2017
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9.5/10
Disc Rating: 8.5/10
Hacksaw Ridge is the extraordinary true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) who, in Okinawa during the bloodiest battle of WWII, saved 75 men without firing or carrying a gun. He was the only American soldier in WWII to fight on the front lines without a weapon, as he believed that while the war was justified, killing was nevertheless wrong. As an army medic, he single-handedly evacuated the wounded from behind enemy lines, braved fire while tending to soldiers, was wounded by a grenade, and hit by snipers. Doss was the first conscientious objector to ever earn the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Based on the remarkable true story, ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ follows various important events in the life and military career of real life hero Desmond Doss (Garfield), the only soldier on the front lines during WWII without a weapon and the first conscientious objector to ever earn the Congressional Medal of Honor. The film follows Doss from childhood and accompanies him as he enlists against the wishes of his folks, through the numerous hardships he endured upon enlisting including beatings, a court-martial and more resulting from his refusal to hold a weapon or simply leave the service when encouraged. Subsequently following Desmond up to the battle of Okinawa in WWII where he not only held his own on the front lines without a rifle or weapon of any kind, but nonetheless managed to display remarkable courage while bravely saving 75 men against powerful odds.
Directed by Mel Gibson (Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ) from a screenplay written by Robert Schenkkan (TV’s The Andromeda Strain) and Andrew Knight (The Water Diviner), Gibson does a spectacular job at the helm of ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ guiding the film along with a consistent beauty and grace, earning him an Oscar nomination for Best Director. The film also owes a tremendous amount of credit to the talented individuals that comprise the cast including Andrew Garfield (Silence), Sam Worthington (Avatar), Luke Bracey (The November Man), Teresa Palmer (Lights Out), Hugo Weaving (The Matrix), Vince Vaughn (TV’s True Detective), Rachel Griffiths (TV’s Brothers & Sisters), and more, nearly all delivering notable performances in each of their respective roles, particularly Garfield whose portrayal of our hero Desmond Doss is simply phenomenal and also earned him a much deserved Oscar nomination.
‘Hacksaw Ridge’ is an outstanding and truly breathtaking film based upon an even more amazing true story that is such a remarkable tale of courage and bravery that it’s nearly unbelievable. The film takes viewers into the life, mind and the powerful convictions of our hero Desmond Doss beginning with glimpses at his childhood, yet primarily concentrating on his career as an American Soldier, taking plenty of time to carefully explore his hardships, punishments and plenty more as he holds firmly to his beliefs and refuses to simply relent even while everything and everyone often seems to be against him; knowing in his heart that he can make a difference and holding that as a personal responsibility to his fellow man. While the film may take its time exploring such matters, those that might be more interested in the war aspect will also find themselves quite satisfied once the second half of the film rolls around; the war sequences delivering prolonged and wildly intense battles that never shy away from the carnage as Gibson (unsurprisingly) provides quite the hefty quantity of stomach twisting bloodshed and war related gore in those scenes. Mel Gibson does a wonderful job in the director’s chair and guides the film along beautifully every step of the way, his highly capable direction only further complimented by a number of noteworthy performances including a truly spectacular portrayal of Doss by Andrew Garfield. Anyone who appreciates the filmmaking efforts of talented director Mel Gibson, along with those interested in the real events that serve as its basis and anyone who simply appreciates a brilliantly crafted and executed war film overloaded with heart and passion will all definitely want to make a point of checking out ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ when you have the opportunity to do so, it’s a magnificent film based on truly amazing real events that is more than worth your time.
Overall, ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ is downright spectacular, a modern war masterpiece exploring an absolutely remarkable true story of unbelievable courage that is sure to resonate with viewers long after the credits roll. Guided with near perfection by Gibson and boosted all the more by Garfield’s outstanding performance in the lead, it easily finds itself among the best films of 2016. I can’t possibly recommend ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ strongly enough to anyone interested in the true story, along with any fan of Mel Gibson’s work behind the camera, and those who appreciate an emotionally powerful and brilliantly constructed war film that is also largely a heartwarming drama in its own right. This one is certainly more than worth the cost of a rental for anyone that might be the slightest bit interested in giving it a shot but is hesitant to drop the money on a blind purchase.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks pretty great as a whole and delivers a clean, detailed and sharp presentation throughout with no notable faults to be found within. It holds up impressively even during the insanely active and fast paced war sequences, never causing anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected, let alone rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a solid high definition video presentation that should easily please the fans and casual viewers alike.
The Blu-ray release features a Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel compatible) soundtrack. Please note that this review pertains solely to the lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio presentation. This lossless multichannel soundtrack sounds outstanding and offers a crisp, clean and at times insanely aggressive audio presentation from start to finish. Frequently utilizing all seven available channels, particularly during the war sequences where it sends flurries of bullets, debris, flames and a great deal more ceaselessly whipping throughout the various speakers, and never conflicting with or overpowering any dialogue or other auditory elements which might be occurring simultaneously. Overall, this is a magnificent Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible) soundtrack that sounds amazing and contributes a great deal to the overall viewing experience, certain to please even the pickiest of audiophiles.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ includes a couple of worthwhile extras. Included on the release is an in depth look at bringing the film to life with ‘The Soul of War: Making Hacksaw Ridge’ (running approximately 70 minutes in length) which includes behind the scenes footage, interviews/comments from the cast and crew, plus more. We are also treated to some ‘Deleted Scenes’ from the movie (running approximately 5 minutes altogether), and a ‘Veterans Day Greeting with Mel Gibson’ (approximately 1 minute). The ‘Theatrical Trailer’ (approximately 3 minutes) for the film is also included.