‘HACKSAW RIDGE’ (2016) MOVIE REVIEW – Welcome Back Mel Gibson… Welcome Back

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‘Hacksaw Ridge’ is a phenomenal War Drama/Biopic packed full with brutal, gritty action, amazing dramatic performances, and is headlined by an incredible return to the directors seat for visionary director Mel Gibson who absolutely kills in with this film. The film highlights the incredible story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) who during WWII was the only US Soldier to fight the war without a firearm and managed to save the lives of 75 men with a huge amount of courage and determination. It’s great to see yet another Australian film become so successful and get the worldwide appeal so many others do.

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Firstly, Andrew Garfield proves here once again that he is an immensely talented dramatic actor with by far the greatest performance of his career. The commitment on his part to sell this character to us and have us buy into his very distinct beliefs and motivations was fantastically done on his part. He does a great job to get you on board with his character so when he is dropped in the middle of a warzone the tension is heightened as you care for this character so much. His performance was so powerful that depending on the competition later in the year he could very well be in contention for a Best Actor nomination. The only thing in this film potentially hindering his chances of being recognised is not at all a bad thing. It is just that the almost just as strong performances put in by the supporting cast could steal some of the limelight from Garfield. Vince Vaughn does an exceptional job as Sgt. Howell in a role much more dramatic than we are used to seeing, and he also injects a small amount of humour in there that didn’t feel jarring at all.

Sam Worthington, Hugo Weaving, Teresa Palmer, and even Luke Bracey had very strong presences in this film and delivered performances that left no gaps in this film. Hugo Weaving specifically had some riveting scenes as the father Desmond Doss and really does completely steal the scenes he features in as his talents trump those of all other actors in the film. Every line of dialogue was delivered with so much conviction that you completely buy into the authenticity of the story and the interactions on show here.

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But there is no doubting that the real superstar of this film is none other than Mel Gibson who comes back after 10 long years to produce another phenomenal film up there with ‘Passion of the Christ’ and ‘Braveheart’. He has come back bigger than ever proving that he still has what it takes to direct incredible and intense action sequences and also direct amazing character centric, dramatic, and emotional content better than most directors today. The way he films the war sequences here is absolutely stunning, they are intense and chaotic and you are literally holding your breath every second as he does not hold back on the violence and graphic nature making it all seem strikingly authentic. But these sequences would not have been nearly as shocking and effective if he hadn’t set up every character as well as he did in the first half or more of the film. He utilises every minute of the film about as effectively as you can and gives every character so much personality and develops them enough to where you care for every single person that goes into battle.

The only issue i had with this film is the very end, if this film was even 2 minutes longer i think it could have been tied up a little better but other than that this was exceptional. Seriously though, what better way to return to directing than with an Oscar nomination, because if he doesn’t get a nominations for his achievements with this film then no-one will. That is of course if the Academy can look past the drama surrounding his past and just focus on the masterful piece of art he has created. And just a note, don’t go into this film expecting a start to finish war, as the majority of this film takes a very character centric approach so that when the war scenes do come, they are so intense it feels like they last for 2 hours alone.

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So in the end this is another incredible directing job by Mel Gibson with phenomenal performances all round, and one of the best war dramas of recent years. Definitely one to check out for Mel Gibson, and for Australian Film in general.

9.5/10

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