Hacksaw Ridge was one of those movies that I was completely discounting. Another World War II movie, except it was about a twerp who doesn’t like guns? Great, sounds like a corny movie trekking constantly into the realms of preachiness and cheesiness. Not to mention that Sam Worthington, king of mediocrity, was in it alongside Vince Vaughn, a man whose career consists of a long stream of comedies that gradually get worse.
I was completely ready to skip this film if it wasn’t for a handful of people who told me that I was being ridiculous, and that it was based on a true story anyway.
Well, I sit here with the metaphorical egg on my face, because Hacksaw Ridge is actually quite great.
The movie is split into three parts. There’s the childhood-grown up part, the enlistment part, and the actual battle part. All of these tell the story of a real life man named Desmond Doss, a man who is led to lead a life of non-violence because of his faith in God and because of his past, but he also has a call to action by serving in World War II.
Andrew Garfield portrays the man, and he does a good job throughout. There’s a possibility that his performance won’t win you over at the beginning, but as the movie gradually develops his character, he is guaranteed to win you eventually.
The romance between him and Teresa Palmer’s character was… awkward to say the least, and it happens rather quickly, almost to the point where it felt like they were rushing through to get to the next part.
Then again, I suppose I am not one to judge on awkward romances because that would probably be the title of my autobiography. The truth is, it is explained eventually why Doss is so awkward and odd, so the romance at least didn’t feel inorganic. Rushed and slightly underdeveloped, sure. But the movie isn’t about the romance, so it’s forgivable.
Someone who pulls a mesmerizingly fantastic performance throughout is Hugo Weaving. This did not come as any sort of surprise to me because I cannot think of any role that he’s taken where he wasn’t fantastic. He’s not a massive part of the film, but he steals nearly every scene that he’s in.
Believe it or not, Vince Vaughn does extremely well in his role. There were times where I found it difficult to take him seriously, but I can’t blame it on his performance at all because it was great; I more or less blame it on the fact that I’m use to seeing performances where he isn’t to be taken seriously at all.
Much of the beginning humor 0f the film is how Vaughn acts as a drill sergeant. His role is your standard meat-and-potatoes drill sergeant, but that didn’t stop him from being absolutely hilarious in the meanest way possible.
Sam Worthington is good, but he never has a point where I was wowed by his performance. At the very least, I can say that he wasn’t bad.
Of the three parts of this movie as mentioned above, the actual battle part is what makes this movie. The other two parts, while well executed, are not necessarily amazing.
The third part of this movie is not only some of the most brutal depictions of warfare I have seen from a movie in a long time, but it is also where the plot has all of its payoffs.
One of the things that Hacksaw Ridge does exceptionally well is relaying certain pieces of information at the right time. Where many movies tend to throw in all of its narrative information in the same place without any purpose, Hacksaw Ridge deliberately leaves certain elements of the story out so that they have a deeper emotional effect on the story later on.
The soundtrack for this movie is not what I would call unique or exceptional, but it was greatly successful in emphasizing emotional moments.
There are moments in this film where it kind of sinks down into hero-worship. Desmond Doss is almost comically sainted in a few scenes. He’s not constantly worshiped like Snowden was in his movie, but the few times they do, it’s so overemphasized that I had a difficult time taken the movie seriously.
Sometimes it’s good to be wrong. Hacksaw Ridge is a movie that highlights a man whose life was led by faith and conviction, and it’s an example of how holding firm to those convictions no matter what is something that is rewarding, even if not right away. It’s also a movie that is respectful to its source material, to the brutality of war, and to its audience. It has its moments of cheesiness and clichédness, but the third act is something that completely makes up for any sort of shortcomings Hacksaw Ridge might have.