Hacksaw Ridge (2016) - The greatest anti-war movie of the last five years - 9/10 (10/11/16)
''Hacksaw Ridge'' is a superbly crafted anti-war movie and easily the best movie of its kind since the release of the South Korean war epic ''My Way'' five years earlier. This movie is based upon true events and tells the story of Seventh-day Adventist Desmond Thomas Doss who enlists in the Army to take part in the Second World War to defend his country but refuses to carry a gun due to his religious beliefs and negative experiences with his violent father who is a war veteran. In the beginning, Doss is bullied, criticized and rejected because of his convictions but he ends up gaining the respect of his brothers in arms during the crucial Battle of Okinawa where he saves the lives of seventy-five soldiers as a medic.
The movie can basically be divided into three parts. The first part introduces Desmond Thomas Doss' life in Lynchburg, Virginia. It shows us how he almost killed his brother as a child because his fighting was encouraged by his broken, brutal and depressive father who is a war veteran of the First World War. It also shows us how his father abused of his wife and almost shot her. Desmond Thomas Doss had to fight his father to protect his mother and swore to never touch a gun again. It also shows us how he fell in love with a local nurse called Dorothy Schutte that he would later on marry. This part of the movie shows us a caring, peaceful and smart young man with clear and strong convictions.
The second part of the film shows us how Desmond Thomas Doss enlists in the army. Initially, he convinces with good results during his training and gets along with most of his brothers in arms. It's only when he openly refuses to carry a gun that he gets rejected by his brothers in arms who are encouraged not to trust him or follow his actions by their superiors. Desmond Thomas Doss gets bullied both mentally and physically by his brothers in arms and has to face some time in prison as well as a trial for disobeying the orders of his superiors. In the end, the charges against him are dropped when a former commanding officer and brother in arms of his father states that Doss' refusal to carry a firearm is protected by the Constitution of the United States of America. This part of the movie shows us an authentic, honest and persevering individual that holds onto his beliefs despite all the hardship he endures.
The third part of the movie takes places during the Battle of Okinawa at a place nicknamed Hacksaw Ridge. Doss' and his brothers in arms must take down the strategically placed Japanese forces atop a cliff. The battle turns out to be pitiless, long and brutal as losses are heavy on both sides. At night, Doss is the only non-injured American who remains on the battlefield to save as many injured soldiers as he can all by himself despite Japanese soldiers occupying the territory. This part of the movie shows us a brave, selfless and strong medic who risks his own life to save as many brothers in arms as possible.
Aside of the inspiring story of a selfless medic, this movie convinces on many levels. The acting is authentic and emotional. Especially the main character portrayed by Andrew Garfield has a lot of sympathetic charisma. His father and war veteran portrayed by Hugo Weaving shows us a torn character who is brutal and depressive on one side but also honest and determined to help his son during his trial no matter what. Another great character is the main character's wife Dorothy Schutte played by Teresa Palmer who convinces as a selfless, faithful and elegant young woman who loves her husband for all the right reasons.
Aside the extraordinary acting, one must point out the movie's epic cinematography. The costumes and settings are authentic and unpolished. The last third of the movie shows us quite brutal, graphic and gripping battle scenes that truly show us the horrors of war. These scenes are not gratuitous, melodramatic or overwhelming, they are just as close to reality as it gets. These intense scenes kept me on the edge of my seat. Another element I liked is the balance between wide shots to capture the horrors on the battlefield and the close-up to capture the emotions on the faces of the injured soldiers in the last forty-five minutes or so of the movie.
To keep it short, ''Hacksaw Ridge'' is a memorable anti-war movie that convinces with an unusual, epic and detailed story line, outstanding acting performances and gorgeous cinematography. It's one of the best war movies in recent memory and also an outstanding drama at the same time. The only reason why this movie didn't get the highest rating is the fact that it focuses a little bit too much on the religious views of the main character. I'm aware of the fact that these beliefs are incredibly important to the main character but the movie felt a little bit repetitive, overwhelming and melodramatic concerning these elements that almost felt like religious propaganda at certain points.
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