(US/China - 2016)
Directed by Mel Gibson. Written by Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight. Cast: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Vince Vaughn, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, Richard Roxburgh, Nathaniel Buzolic, Matt Nable, Firass Dirani, Luke Pegler, Ben Mingay, Nico Cortez, Goran D. Kleut, Milo Gibson, Robert Morgan. (R, 139 mins)
Directing his first film since 2006's APOCALYPTO, Mel Gibson shapes this biographical account of WWII hero Desmond Doss (1919-2006) into an unflinching, graphically violent look at one man taking a personal stand amidst the horrors of war. Co-written by Robert Schenkkan, who scripted several episodes of the HBO mini-series THE PACIFIC, HACKSAW RIDGE is also filled with the kind of epic suffering endured by Gibson protagonists, whether it's BRAVEHEART's William Wallace or THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST's Jesus, right down to some crucifixion and baptismal imagery in the climax, almost depicted as a resurrection of sorts. The first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor, Desmond (Andrew Garfield) grew up in the hills of Lynchburg, VA, the son of drunken, bitter WWI vet Thomas (Hugo Weaving), who's still shell-shocked by his experiences and wracked with survivor's guilt after he was the only one of his friends to return home alive. A family of Seventh-Day Adventists, Thomas has instilled in Desmond and the rest of the family--wife Bertha (Rachel Griffiths) and their other son Hal (Nathaniel Buzolic)--a deep belief in non-violence and the idea there is no circumstance in which even touching a gun is justified. Thomas is enraged when Hal enlists, and despite his protests, Desmond enlists as well, feeling a sense of duty but vowing to stick to his anti-gun beliefs by volunteering to be a medic ("Instead of taking lives, I'll be saving them," he tells his father). Promising to marry his nurse girlfriend Dorothy (Teresa Palmer) during his first furlough, Desmond joins the Army and all goes well until he refuses to handle a weapon.
|Cpl. Desmond Doss receiving his Medal of Honor|
from President Harry Truman in 1945