Hacksaw Ridge – Movie Review


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When you imagine someone going into the Second World War at its peak between the Japanese and the Americans, with no weapon by his side and functioning merely as a war medic, you don’t really expect him to survive, do you? Let alone them surviving the entirety of the war, be credited with saving 75 soldiers and live until 2006. Well, the story of Desmond Doss says otherwise.

Directed by Mel Gibson and starring the baby faced Andrew Garfield as the miracle man himself, Hacksaw Ridge is as accurate a portrayal of the incident as can be made. In fact, Doss was against making a book or movie about it because he was afraid that it would be made inaccurate for the sake of adaptation, until Mel came along. The first part of the movie focuses solely on the man, with the second dealing with the mission. Say what you will about the religious and political views of Gibson, but he does make some fine movies. True to his MO, the movie is staunchly Christian, with allusions to God and constant messages to God from Doss. But in this movie however, it can be excused as Doss was exactly like that in real life. Towards the end, there is a scene where the entire battalion waits for Doss to complete his prayers before they head out to battle. While it looks obviously over the top, Doss and the other soldiers present there swear that it is authentic. At the beginning, it was indeed not all well and good, as Doss gets constantly ridiculed for his decisions, because, well, let’s face it – No gun in war? It grows worse to the extent that he even gets beat up while sleeping, is denied passes for the weekend, and even is on the verge of getting court-martialed for being a weak link in the squad.


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The second part is pretty much similar to the D-Day scenes from ‘Saving Private Ryan’, with equal parts gore, deaths and maimed human bodies. Amidst all the crossfire, Doss goes around attending to the injured and transferred back to the medic stations. What’s interesting here is that the Japanese made it a clear objective to take out the medics first as it would dent the morale of the soldiers, which makes it an even bigger feat. Albeit looking like a natural terrain, hacksaw ridge was geographically tinkered by the japs over course of years, with underground caves and tunnels unknown to the Americans. This meant a tremendous outpour of Japanese forces anew every day, their sheer numbers overpowering the ammo the US had, even artillery strikes. In the face of such miserable odds, Doss stayed back as a single man and did all the rescue processes with nothing more than his will, his God and a piece of really long rope. Again, it all looks like plot armour, but it is historically accurate and the armour came from somewhere we don’t know and can’t understand.

The dialogue is as clichéd as they come, with a random character even saying “In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons.” The accents don’t hold up very well. But the film is strengthened based solely on the gentlest of human spirits and one person trying to fix the broken world in any little way he could, without compromising on his convictions. Andrew Garfield, after his Spiderman venture taking in mixed responses, survives as a serious actor in a very serious movie. The movie is everything you would look for in a war movie, flavoured with a little religion and a seasoning of a few “Wait. What?” scenes (you’ll know them when you watch it). The right man in the right place can make all the difference in the world, and Desmond Doss sure did.

Written by Shyam Kamal, Final year Electronics and Communication Engineering