Let’s be honest, Mel Gibson created his masterpiece years ago in 1994 when he directed and played the main role Braveheart. This was a film that challenged the entirety of Hollywood in what incredible production, gigantic set-pieces, and star-studded casts could do. It was a film that created a whole new standard for films based around war, the horrors of it, and why people fight when they do. However, what if I told you that he eventually managed to tie with himself 20 years afterward in creating Hacksaw Ridge?
Mel Gibson’s most emotional film is by far Hacksaw Ridge, it’s not because the film has something that Braveheart did not or that it has a better story. In fact, it’s entirely due to the fact how technologically advanced Hollywood has become and how incredibly good the modern actors are.
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The Movie Review
This is a biographical war film, which means that it is inspired by real events and a very real story. The film is based on the life of Desmond Doss, a war veteran who enlisted in the war as a combat medic against the Japanese after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The thing that makes Doss such a peculiar veteran is that after an event that changed his life when he was young, he took an oath not to kill anyone. This is what makes Doss’ story so unique, he was right there in the war yet he did not kill.
This is the story of Doss, who wished nothing more than a happy, quiet, and peaceful life where he could help others and not put anyone in danger. Yet he pushed himself to the very edge and came out clean on the other side.
In all honesty, Mel Gibson’s direction hasn’t always been pitching perfect after his magnum opus, Braveheart. He has squandered his reputation tremendously by dishing out poor films, that are not of the same caliber by any means. Yet he has redeemed himself with Hacksaw Ridge, a film that tells a story so emotional that you cannot help but feel incredibly invested. It’s paced beautifully, focusing on Doss’ life from his early teens to the very moments that went on to forever define him as a hero.
Each scene is structured to fit and provide information, yet there are still moments in between for the silence, for the noise to be filtered out and for the emotions to pour out on the screen.
I cannot overstate this, but Andrew Garfield’s acting is the key to this film’s success. The academy award-nominated performance is by far Andrew Garfield’s career-best. He portrays Desmond Doss with such emotion that you can’t understand him fully, yet still agree with his point of view.
He chooses to be part of the war, and yet he also chooses not to kill but to save. It’s this underlying conflict within himself that he showcases on full display, he wishes to not harm anyone yet that is a must when trying to survive a war. So, his fighting and keeping his morals alive at the same time crafts a beautiful character portrait.
The film is shot quite well, though the cinematography isn’t anything exceptional. For the most part, the film is drenched in greys and browns during the war sequences, and for the remainder of the film it’s drenched in warmer tones. The warm tones are showcased throughout the entirety of the film, which can seem a bit off-putting because it doesn’t really match the themes of the scenarios that the characters are in. The score doesn’t do much justice to the overall film either. It’s a decent OST, yet it manages to become forgettable after a short while of listening to it within the film.
The CGI and visual effects, on the other hand, make this film seem so real that I couldn’t blink or take my eyes off of it in fear I would miss a detail.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, Hacksaw Ridge is what Mel Gibson came up with after 20 years of Braveheart being his magnum opus. That was his answer to the claims that he’s a washed-up director, and he proved everyone wrong with this film. Hacksaw Ridge is a wonderful film, full of somber emotionality, and hardcore, blood-pumping war sequences which both mesmerize and terrify. If only the film had paid more attention to its aesthetics, such as the cinematography, the lighting, and the score; then it could have been Mel Gibson’s best work by far.