Not a Movie Snob - Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Posted on Friday, November 11, 2016 at 11:00 AM

"Stand for something"

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Movie Review by Griffintainment X

It's been a while since Mel Gibson was at the helm of a movie. Some would say it's been a while since Mel Gibson was allowed to be at the helm a movie, but that's neither here nor there.

He makes his comeback with the true WWII story of Desmond Doss, a devoutly religious small town boy who enlists in the military as a medic after America is attacked by the Japanese. There is, however, one caveat to his participation in this war: he will not touch a firearm. That makes basic training a task for him and his commanding officers, who see his anti-firearm convictions as a sign of weakness and insubordination. Because Doss is protected by the 'conscientious objector' laws, his CO's and much of the rest of his squad instead put Doss through all manner of hell in an effort to force his resignation.

But it doesn't work. Doss stands tall and sticks to his guns, no pun intended. After a great deal of strife, and facing the threat of imprisonment, he is finally allowed to participate on the battlefield of WWII as a medic without a single weapon to defend himself. That leads him to Hacksaw Ridge, a literal hell on earth, where wave after wave of American soldiers are being torn to pieces by the well placed and maniacal Japanese forces. Enter the battle scenes.

Now because this is a Mel Gibson film, and Mel has a love affair with excessive and often stomach churning violence in his films, the Hacksaw Ridge set pieces are unbelievably gruesome. But it would be hard to imagine a WWII film, no matter how gory, that was as bad as it actually would've been to be there. So I don't fault Mel, or Spielberg, or anyone else who has depicted the horrors of war in such startling extremes, for their efforts. And speaking of Spielberg, the Hacksaw Ridge scenes are not unlike the Omaha Beach sequence that kicks off Saving Private Ryan.

In fact, as much as I liked this movie overall, I would have to say that it's only downfall is that we've seen most of the stuff in it before. The battle scenes in Saving Private Ryan; the boot camp/war film split in Full Metal Jacket; the pretty wife, or wife-to-be, left waiting at home, expressing sentiments like 'you'd better come home to me', in, well, every war film ever. There isn't a lot here that will feel fresh or different.

Except for the story of Doss himself. Owing to a promise he made to God some years ago, Doss swore he would never again touch another gun as long as he lived. And he was determined to keep that promise throughout the war, no matter the cost. What Doss was able to do without a weapon, the number of lives he was able to save and the bravery and courage he showed, he attributed solely to God, taking none of the credit himself. And make no mistake, this is a very God-filled film. In fact, it is so God and scripture focused, that I would say it belongs in the recent subgenre of films people have dubbed 'God-flix' (i.e; God's Not Dead, Left Behind, the new Ben Hur, War Room, those Tyler Perry movies, those Kirk Cameron movies), with the notable exception that Hacksaw Ridge is a good film, and those other films are crap (affectionately dubbed 'God-awful films' by snarky critics).

Hacksaw is directed with typical precision and unbelievable skill by Gibson, one of the best filmmakers in the world right now, as far as I'm concerned. And Andrew Garfield is an absolute marvel as Doss. This could be his best performance, or at worst his second best performance, after The Social Network.
And regardless of your own views on God and His place in popular entertainment, Hacksaw features a very uplifting story of selflessness in the face of horrors most of us in North America could never begin to imagine.

It's a good message, one worth hearing. And Hacksaw Ridge is the perfect film for Remembrance Day.

Rating: ****

Calgary Showtimes: Hacksaw Ridge >


NOTE: The showtimes listed on come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to