For Reel

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
November 27, 2016, 12:14 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Mel Gibson
3.5 Stars
hacksaw-ridgeThe director’s perceived bloodlust in filming Hacksaw Ridge is its biggest dividing factor. As with The Passion and the Christ and Apocalypto, Mel Gibson indulges in grisly, horrific images as a way of suggesting something transcendental—that is, only by experiencing true hell do Gibson’s characters seem to achieve their own personal and spiritual validation. Through that lens, to suggest that the war scenes in Hacksaw Ridge glorify violence is problematic. In fact, Gibson seems to invest so much time to the gruesome aspects of war not to champion them, but to argue for the need of a counterpoint. Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) therefore becomes a sort of rebel leader, the only man amongst the bloodshed who strives to save lives rather than take them. That Doss is occasionally lost amongst the fury as a physical presence doesn’t dispel the notion that Gibson is establishing the stakes of Doss’ context—the heroism, it could be argued, would be muted if the display of bloodshed was reimagined as one particular man’s luck at dodging bullets. Moreover, the contradiction of a gory anti-war movie is an echo of the irresistible narrative. Hacksaw Ridge leaves too much on the table to reach its full dramatic potential—much of what is established in the first half is ultimately abandoned, including Doss’ relationship with both his father and his wife. However, as a staging of one man’s shocking display of heroism amidst unthinkable chaos, it swiftly navigates both the sentimentality and the terror and dread of the situation, with Garfield’s unassuming, boyish demeanor being the film’s biggest asset in establishing the paradoxical tones.

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