Hacksaw Ridge tells the true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), a religious pacifist, who goes off to join the army in the Second World War. His religious obligation to pacifism and aversion to violence lands him trouble with his peers and officers, but his resilience drives him to the battlefield as a medic.
Desmond joins to become an army medic and to save lives instead of taking them. Let this be a warning, with a movie about an army medic, there are some pretty nasty injuries. If you have a weak stomach (like I do unfortunately) this might be a tough watch. There’s graphic war violence throughout including some pretty rough war injuries including limbs being blown off and graphic gunshot wounds.
Still, if you can stomach the gripping and tense war imagery, the story is really an extraordinary one. The true resilience of the human spirit is incredible, but few are as resilient as Desmond Doss. Equipped with no weapons, he saved 75 men from Hacksaw Ridge without ever touching a rifle or killing a man. His obedience to his beliefs and his religion brought him a lot of suffering, but in the end he proved that his God made him feel brave and heroic, not weak or any less of a soldier.
This film is cinematic as it is harrowing, with the war and battle scenes being shot creatively as well as extremely graphic. Andrew Garfield is a bone fide star in this film, and his sheer charisma and fortitude make Desmond such a likeable character. He plays the underdog well, and he has played the underdog/awkward guy before, but this take on the character is impressive. It can be daunting to play a certified hero (even if Doss constantly refused to call himself a hero and attributed all of his strength to God), but Garfield plays the character exceptionally. The movie at it’s core is about him. The war is happening, but you are invested in this one character for the duration of the film, and Garfield never loses his grip on your heartstrings for almost two and half hours. Hugo Weaving gives a great performance as a tragic father and Teresa Palmer plays a fantastic role as his love interest, but Garfield really steals the show. The film was nominated for six Oscars, winning two for sound design and film editing. The story is admirable and incredible to see, even if it is an emotional roller coaster filled with some graphic gore. I must say it deserved to be nominated for Best Picture, as it is truly an incredible story that brought out an incredible performance in its lead actor.
Amy’s Recommendation: 9/10