Friday, November 11, 2016

Hacksaw Ridge - A Review

I do not feel compelled to write reviews of every movie I see. I don't see that many, and those I do see seldom rise above a certain formulaic mediocrity. Not so with Hacksaw Ridge.

This is the true story of Desmond T. Doss, played convincingly by Andrew Garfield, as an Army Medic, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, charging into the Hell of battle without a weapon, to become the first Conscientious Objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

The movie has a much greater scope than I had imagined. After a brief glimpse of the Hell that was to come, we see a flashback to Desmond's childhood, experiences planting the seeds of the man he will become. We meet his Dad, a WWI veteran, haunted by the ghosts of his past and survivor's guilt, masterfully played by Hugo Weaving. He and Rachel Griffiths, who plays his Mom, come across as genuine, three dimensional people, instead of some stereotypical caricature of rural religious folk.

We next see Desmond as a young adult at the outbreak of WWII. The courtship of his future wife, his travails in basic training, his struggle to stay in the Army (and out of Federal Prison) for holding fast to his beliefs.

The movie is interspersed with humor and heart. The story is compelling and well told. The casting is excellent. The direction and cinematography are both remarkable. The violence is quite graphic, so this movie is not for the very young or faint of spirit. Wait for the toned down edited for TV version.

Trigger warning: There are no delicate snowflakes in this movie. Safe spaces are few and far between. There is some cursing, a lot of violence, and (cover the ears of the children) people of faith who read the Bible and pray! One scene is of a church choir that you cannot unsee!

I very seldom give any movie I see a superlative five out of five stars. For that, the movie must truly be a timeless classic, not just an entertaining pastime or good popcorn movie. Given the very strict standards with which I grade movies, I give Hacksaw Ridge, five out of five stars. I won't say that it is the best war movie I've ever seen. It may be the best movie I've ever seen.

Do yourself a favor and go see it.

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