Hacksaw Ridge is the latest film starring Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington, Hugo Weaving and Teresa Palmer. Oh, and it’s also directed by Mel Gibson. To say this film is star studded would be an understatement. But unfortunately, the film does not live up to the performance of the cast. Andrew Garfield and Vince Vaughn absolutely steal the show, and that’s fantastic. We finally get to see Vince Vaughn actually act, which makes us realise while we all fell in love with him in Swingers, and why we were excited to see him cast in the second season of True Detective. Andrew Garfield performs admirably alongside Weaving and Palmer, showing us just what the post Spiderman Garfield would be like. I bet your picturing Garfield the cat dressed up as Spiderman, if not then, you are now.
The only fault I can find in this movie is Gibson. Apocalypto was great, Braveheart was great, Passion of the Christ was a movie, so we all know Gibson can direct. The cinematography was great, as he really does take advantage of the scenery, and the actual combat scenes were absolutely visceral, reminding us of other famous war films like Saving Private Ryan and Platoon. But I feel that this is one of Gibsons major flaws. Every great director has had an equally great war film. We have Speilberg, Stone, Coppala, Kubrick, Scott and Eastwood who all directed not only some of the best war films of all time, but some of the best films of all time.
This is where Gibson falls short. With every other director, the war itself was almost the main character. The other characters were all there as a mechanism to show how terrible, how traumatizing war is. The directors take full advantage of this in the movies, either creating characters who are so complex and changed by the war that we are somehow drawn to them, or using the plot piece of a war to create these scenes of pure beauty and terror. Everyone who has seen the first 5 minutes of Saving Private Ryan will never forget it. But that’s where Hacksaw Ridge is different. It is forgettable. It focus’s too much on the tale of Desmond Doss, who in all honestly was an amazing man, and an extraordinary hero, but he comes off as shallow in the film that centers around him. Doss is given about 4 characteristics in the film, he’s brave, he sticks by his convictions, he’s nice and honestly he’s boring. This is no criticism of the actual man who I’m sure was incredible, but the portrayal of him in Hacksaw Ridge is boring.
With the actual film spending half the time on trying to tell the early life story and build up an incredibly dull and shallow character, you’re left in your seat wondering when the action comes. The action is good, but is it worth the wait? Honestly no. As a movie fan, as a war movie fan, Hacksaw Ridge is a film I want to love, but the problem of having a character without major flaws is that I empathize with him. All his difficulties stemmed from the fact that he was too good of a person, I just can’t relate.
Hacksaw Ridge is ultimately incredibly average. Are the better war movies to watch? Of course. Are the worst war movies to watch? Sure, there’s always Michael Bays attempt.