First things first, the opening 10 minutes of this film are horrendous. It’s syrupy, melodramatic to the extreme and it honestly feels like an extended scene from the opening of Walk Hard: A Dewey Cox Story. I even expected Hugo Weaving to shout “The wrong kid died!” at any given moment (if you get that reference then we can be friends).
Hacksaw Ridge does eventually find its footing and it’s Andrew Garfield’s wonderful performance that anchors the whole film. He’s so good here and thoroughly deserving of the many awards nods he’s been receiving. Speaking of good performances, I actually loved Sam Worthington in this. Yes, you read that correctly. Sam “charisma black hole” worthington is great in Hacksaw Ridge, I’m taking it as a sign of the apocalypse but colour me surprised.
Onto the battle scenes themselves, no film maker seems to love gore more than Mel Gibson and he doesn’t hold back here. But this then brings me into my main grievance with the film, Garfield’s character is a conscientious objector and therefore refuses to hold a weapon, as he is the protagonist you’d expect the film to side with his way of thinking. However for a film about someone that hates war and everything that comes with it the directorial style sure seems like it’s glorifying it at times. Huge, sweeping battle scenes, gunfights in slow motion with huge orchestral music over the top of it, every trick is pulled out of the bag here and for what purpose? Surely a film about a conscientious objector should show war to be as ugly as possible and not a showcase of the directors flair for the camera. Or maybe I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.
That being said, the last 10 minutes of the film are genuinely moving and prove that no matter how the events are portrayed it’s still a story worth telling about one of the bravest men surely to have ever lived.