Reluctant War Hero: A Review of “Hacksaw Ridge”


Can you feel it? There has a been a disturbance in the force. It’s the pre-awards show season where all the dramatic, oscar-bait movies are released. I’ve been reeled in with their bait, and have been spending ALL my extra time at the movies, which is even more of an issue because I work at a movie theatre. My co-workers probably think I’m nuts. Oh well.

Hacksaw Ridge, directed Mel Gibson, has the potential to be an Oscar contender this year. The film tells the story of Pfc. Desmond T. Doss, a combat medic who refused to carry a weapon in WWII. Based on a true story, the film balances heart and violence in a way I have yet to see before, especially when paired with stellar performances from Andrew Garfield and Vince Vaughn. This brutal film with make you squirm (especially if you are squeamish like me), laugh, and cry. But most of all, it will having you rooting for Desmond Doss, even when everyone else is pushing for him to go home and fail.

Hacksaw Ridge earns its 18A (R in America) rating by being very, very violent. Rightfully so, because it is a war film, it makes sense that we would be face to face with some nasty wounds considering the main character is a medic. Bear that in mind before you go to see the film, because it could be a deal breaker if you cannot handle blood/wounds. I had a very difficult time with it, but managed to power through and get to the heart of the film. The violence complements the story well and doesn’t just appear for no reason; it appears so we can see just how brutal it was for Desmond Doss to not only perform medical treatment on the wounds, but try to avoid them himself without a weapon.

Andrew Garfield steps out of Spiderman suit in this dramatic role, showing how talented of an actor he really is. In the first half of the film, he makes us fall in love with him while Desmond falls in love with Dorothy Schutte (Teresa Palmer). Their love story is so sweet and genuine, that you can’t help but root for the two of them. This love carries through the rest of the film, even when times are grim and you are unsure whether or not Doss will make it home. Vince Vaughn was also extremely hilarious in this film as Sergeant Howell, but not in his regular goofy way. He combined heart and humour to add a lightness to this film.

I think that is the best part about Hacksaw Ridge, how much light and love it has despite it’s grim setting. The story and the performances by the actors helps you stay uplifted while the violence and 18A rating shows you just how brutal war really is. I can’t say for sure whether or not Hacksaw Ridge will get any Oscars nominations right now because it is way too early. However, I know when I’ve seen a good movie because I get the shivers afterwards. And boy oh boy, did I have the shivers after this one.

Katie is a makeup artist/blogger from the Great White North (AKA, good ol’ Canada). She spends her time creating YouTube videos, writing about anything that crosses her mind, and living vicariously through episodes How I Met Your Mother. You can check out her videos here. Or follow Katie on Twitter and at her Blog.

P.S. from the Collectress

I don’t normally tack on to the end of one of our contributor’s posts, but this isn’t a normal Oscar-bait film. Desmond Doss, the protagonist of Hacksaw Ridge, was Seventh-day Adventist–the same religion I was born and raised in. Doss was a conscientious objector–as are most of the SDAs who serve in the military, my stepfather included. Religious values aside, I was raised in a culture that believes in pacifism, that violence is not the answer, and that human life has value. Considering the current political atmosphere, I think Doss’ story is one that we should pay attention to, and though I have yet to see the film, I strongly urge you to learn about this war hero who never fired a gun.