Our certified movie critic Toni Gonzales tells us about Hacksaw Ridge, a movie starring Andrew Garfield.
Andrew Garfield has gone to great lengths to keep his family home, helped create Facebook, and even worn the Spiderman costume. In his latest role for “Hacksaw Ridge” he adds soldier to his ever expanding roles. Garfield is Desmond T. Doss, a real life soldier in World War II. Doss was one of a handful of men drafted who were allowed to serve yet not forced to carry a weapon in combat. No gun while fighting a war? That makes about as much sense as not having shampoo at a hair salon – the two just go hand and hand. That said, the real life situation makes for a great dramatic narrative on screen. Desmond Doss would save 75 men over the course of a couple of days at the battle of Hacksaw Ridge – without ever shooting a single shot! He would go on to be one of a couple of soldiers to receive the Medal of Honor. That is the story.
Now, onto the film. Garfield was a solid choice to play Doss. He is not big in stature like you expect a solider to be. And, as Sgt. Howell (played by Vince Vaughn) orders in the movie, Doss should be kept away from strong winds. His softer features and leaner body only help to add weight to the role.
The movie is helmed by director Mel Gibson. An interesting choice you might think. That is until you remember that he has called the shots on some of the best ground battles ever to be shown on the big screen (Braveheart, Apocalypto). Gibson does not disappoint with the battle/war scenes. In fact, they are epic. Tight, engulfing, and relentless shots grab the audience and does not let go. It is here that Gibson’s vision as a director is seen. The second half of the movie is nothing short of remarkable. Gibson did a truly extraordinary job.
Sadly however, the audience has to sit through the first half of the movie to get to the good, no – the great stuff. The first half isn’t terrible, it’s not even that bad. But it is underwhelming – especially when you see where it ends up. Viewers spend that time meeting Desmond and his dysfunctional family. They see how he meets his wife, played by Teresa Palmer. The cast and filmmakers do an adequate job of setting the foundation, truly. It just was not evenly paced or matched with the film. It was almost as if they were two different movies. Luckily Andrew Garfield does a good job of acting as the bridge and carrying a jarring transition. Ladies will like the love story. The men, they will lose their collective minds over the second half.
Vince Vaughn plays the Sargent to Garfield’s crew. He offers up some much needed relief for the film. He is perfect for that role in that he uses his comedic talents but does not overkill.
Overall this is a great movie. Elevated to greatness by the depiction of being at war, for the unbelievable true story, and for the performance of Garfield.