Hacksaw Ridge review: bold, moving and inspirational

Andrew Garfield and Teresa Palmer in Hacksaw Ridge.
Andrew Garfield and Teresa Palmer in Hacksaw Ridge.

SWINGING recklessly from mawkish religion and relationship drama to bloodcurdlingly horrific and realistic war sequences, Hacksaw Ridge certainly managed to grab my attention.

Having forgotten who was at the helm while I watched it unfold, I often thought to myself, “Who in the heck directed this?”

The bipolar tone came off so undisciplined, but when the final credits rolled and the name Mel Gibson popped up, it all made so much sense.

Hacksaw Ridge chronicles the real-life experiences of World War II American army medic Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), who sweeps sweetheart nurse Dorothy Schutte (Teresa Palmer) off her feet, then joins the army, against the wishes of his volatile father Tom (Hugo Weaving).

Once Doss hits the army barracks, his religion-based stance against guns and violence rubs his peers and superiors the wrong way.

Serving during the Battle of Okinawa in Japan, his gun-less training is put to the test.

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Whether Gibson’s intentions are to pay homage to the earnest sweetness of 1940s movies or to merely juxtapose it with the horrors of war are unclear, but the meet-cute between Desmond and Dorothy is as uneasy to watch as the violence, but for different reasons.

To his credit, Gibson directs with absolute conviction, whether it is cringe-worthy courtship or blowing limbs off bodies, yet he is seemingly unaware how to meld the two parts of the story.

Doss’ story is compelling and thought-provoking and Hacksaw Ridge is undeniably bold, often moving and inspirational, but also frustratingly saccharine; it is a film one should see if only to marvel at what an experience it is.


Hacksaw Ridge (MA)

Directed by: Mel Gibson

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer, Vince Vaughn

Review by: Julian Wright

Three stars

In cinemas now