Every once in a while comes a movie that reinvents a genre and Hacksaw Ridge is no exception.
The WWII epic directed by Mel Gibson has set the standard for all future war movies.
The film is based on the true story of Desmond Doss, played brilliantly by Andrew Garfield, who refused to carry a weapon and ended up as a medic during one of the bloodiest battles of WWII, namely the invasion of Okinawa in 1945.
Desmond Doss was single-handedly responsible for saving the lives of more than 70 men. While he was determined to do his bit for his country, his religious beliefs prevented him from taking another human life.
The film was shot in locations in New South Wales and although based in the US and of course Okinawa, it is hard to pick it was filmed here. There are many familiar faces in the movie including WA’s own Sam Worthington, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, Teresa Palmer, Luke Bracey, Matt Nable and Richard Roxburgh. There is also a strong supporting cast of Australian actors from various TV shows including some faces from the Underbelly series.
One of the surprise standout performances (and there were many) was Vince Vaughn as a no nonsense sergeant who blends humour, drama and action brilliantly into his role.
The opening scenes of the film are reminiscent of older style movie making dating back to the early days of film helped by strong acting. When the action breaks out, the audience is thrown head first into shockingly realistic battle scenes. The Americans were determined to take Okinawa in preparation for an invasion of Japan and the Japanese were determined to fend off any invaders on their beloved homeland with brutal consequences.
The war scenes were (necessarily) confronting and bloody and Gibson’s mix of reality and drama combined with modern special effects works very well. You breath in the tension during the battle scenes and you feel every bullet, grenade and artillery shell that hits its target.
There are scenes reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan and also Flags of our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, but it is the battle for the individual soldiers’ morality that makes Hacksaw Ridge stand out.
It has been a while since I heard an audience give a movie a round of applause but at film’s end that is exactly what the entire audience did.
Put Hacksaw Ridge on your to do list, you won’t be disappointed.
Tickets to be won
Examiner Newspapers in conjunction with Dendy and Icon Films has five in-season double passes to give away to Hacksaw Ridge. Tell us in 25 words or less what the sacrifice our soldiers made in WWII means to you. Tickets can be picked up from our office. Send your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Distributor: Icon Films
In cinemas now.