Film review: Hacksaw Ridge is brutal and captivating

Hacksaw Ridge is showing at Saffron Screen this weekend

Hacksaw Ridge is showing at Saffron Screen this weekend - Credit: Archant

Hacksaw Ridge sees Mel Gibson return to the director’s chair for the first time in a decade with this World War Two movie based on true events.

Andrew Garfield leaves behind the shackles of Spider-Man to produce a emotionally charged performance as Desmond Doss, a medic with the American army who, as a “conscientious objector”, refused to carry a weapon, but went on to win the medal of honour for his incredible bravery.

The first half of the film focuses on Doss’s early life in a family with an abusive alcoholic father, played excellently by Hugo Weaving, and delves into the reasons he chose his non-violent existence, as well as telling the story of his blossoming romance with eventual wife Dorothy (Teresa Palmer).

Galvanised into joining the army as a medic after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour, Doss is persecuted during basic training by both his fellow cadets and his military superiors who brand him a coward.

Vince Vaughan, who is known predominantly for his comedy roles, turns in an impressive performance as the captain of Doss’s unit and shows he has the acting chops to handle more serious work.

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As enjoyable as this set up is, the second half, when the action switches to Okinawa in Japan, is where the film really succeeds.

Gibson produces a nerve shredding spectacle as Doss and his unit find themselves outnumbered in their attempt to capture Hacksaw Ridge from the Japanese. The battle scenes are brutal, violent and totally captivating.

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Despite the bad press he has attracted in recent times, there is no denying Mel Gibson is a good director and this may well be his best film yet.

The initial set up builds the emotion like a gentle family drama, but leaves the you totally unprepared for the visceral explosion of violence in the final hour.

Single handedly rescuing 75 of his comrades from certain death, the true story of Desmond Doss is truly astounding and Gibson has done his story justice with one of the best war films in recent memory.

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