I have not been posting nearly as much as I should, but with finals out of the way I will be posting many new reviews and various other articles. Now, on with the review: Say what you will about Mel Gibson, but he is a fine director. I have only seen a handful of his films but every single one I have seen has impressed me. Hacksaw Ridge is no exception. It may be a little clunky in some areas, but overall it is a very impressive film and one of the best war films in recent memory.
War starts when lies end
The direction and the acting are the two strongest aspects of this film. Gibson seeks to portray the war scenes as absolute chaos, yet somehow the scenes remain fairly coherent. This is something that is challenging to do, yet Gibson and his team pull it off remarkably well. Along with the action packed war scenes, the quieter moments are handled fairly well. As of right now I strongly believe Mel Gibson deserves an Oscar for best director. Along with directing some tense scenes, Gibson also directs each of the actors who give standout performances.
The two actors that deserve some Oscar recognition are Andrew Garfield and Hugo Weaving. Do not get me wrong, the rest of the cast does a great job but these two deliver such compelling performances that they elevate the film to new heights. Hugo Weaving takes a despicable character and transforms him into someone who is fundamentally human and vulnerable. Every single time he was on screen my attention was fixed on him. Andrew Garfield has several scenes with Hugo Weaving and it is a testament to his acting that he is able to carry his own. He is consistently optimistic, caring, and above all pure. Garfield is able to effectively convey this and more in his nuanced performance. There is also a lot of physicality involved with this role but once again Garfield rises to the occasion. A couple of scenes feel fairly cliché but Garfield and his performance help ground those scenes. Before moving onto the negatives of the film I want to mention the way we are introduced to Doss’s military friends. It is always a challenge to make the audience care for supporting characters with limited screen time, but this film knocks it out of the park. There is a great scene where the audience is introduced to the rest of the military company and somehow through that scene I felt connected to most of the people. It was slightly expositional, but the characters all felt unique and the scene was overall quite memorable.
You lose more than what you can win in war
I have a couple of reviews coming up and some of them are going to have the same flaw as this film: The writing. For every single film the writing is the foundation. If you do not have good writing, chances are you will not have a good film. There are perhaps a couple of exceptions, but this is true for most films. The writing in this film is okay but it could have been better. The plot is very basic for the first half with some predictable dialogue.
There were are least three times where I was able to predict the next line of dialogue. The pacing was also a little off in the first half of the film. Everything felt rushed so some development was skimmed over. For example, Doss’s relationship with Dorothy (Theresa Palmer) felt very rushed to me. The film never gave me a chance to invest into their relationship, so I never really cared about them. The only reason I gave their relationship any attention was their performances (Garfield’s in particular).
This film is going to do very well at the Oscars, but it has several notable flaws. The writing is not particularly strong and the pacing is a little off. However, through Gibson’s assured direction and the standout performances of its talented cast, Hacksaw Ridge is elevated to a great film that should definitely not be overlooked.