How far would you go to stand up for your convictions? This is question to ponder as you watch Hacksaw Ridge, a story based around a young man of faith going off to war to do what’s right. Director Mel Gibson returns behind the camera to tell this incredible true story of heroism in the face of adversity and in the process brings us one of the most memorable stories of war ever brought to screen.
Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) is a young Virginian boy, whose life on the family farm has been plagued by a father distraught with guilt after coming home from WWI and a childhood accident that almost caused the death of his brother Hal. Desmond takes solace in a new belief that no man should take up arms and kill another man and devotes his life to the Lord. A chance meeting with Dorothy (Teresa Palmer), a young hospital nurse, leads the young boy to the conclusion that he is destined to one day marry her. After Hal joins the army to fight against the Japanese in WWII, Desmond begins to think he must also go off to war to protect all that he loves.
Upon arrival to boot camp, it becomes abundantly clear to Doss that his beliefs will soon be tested. Sergeant Howell (Vincent Vaughn), isn’t amused by the revelation that Doss won’t fire a weapon and aims to make an example of him. Desmond makes every attempt to prove his worth in the company, but still refuses to yield to the pressure. Company Captain Glover (Sam Worthington) recommends that Doss be dishonorably discharged from the army, but Doss ultimately wins the right to fight the war on his terms, as a medical officer. The company ships off to Okinawa, where Doss will find out first hand what his choices have lead him to.
This powerful film looks at war through the eyes of a young man who chooses to use his faith, not a gun, as a weapon to save lives instead of taking them. Andrew Garfield turns in the performance of a lifetime bringing Desmond Doss to life on the screen. Garfield is compelling and portrays Doss’ emotional journey from star crossed lover to war time hero with perfection. Each step thru the battle of Hacksaw Ridge provides a clear understanding what it means to believe in the power of faith and what it takes to trust that your every action is predetermined by a higher power. Doss left no doubt that he is one of the world’s greatest heroes, Garfield leaves no doubt that he is one of Hollywood’s rising stars.
Overall, Hacksaw Ridge is a marvelous film destined for a strong run into award season.
4 out of 5