Hacksaw Ridge online movie review - I'd say they don't make them like this anymore, but they just did.
When "Hacksaw Ridge" was over, me and my friends left the theater impressed. We all felt that it was a product of good, old-fashioned film-making.
You get that certain sense of melodrama, emotional pathos and familiarity with it - and none of it feels cynical, forced or meaningless. It's not a subtle movie, but it's a very effective one. I still have "Arrival" to watch, but so far "Hacksaw Ridge" is probably the best movie I've seen in 2016.
This movie is very familiar in what it shows, but unique in what it's telling you with these things. First and foremost it's the story Desmond Doss, his faith, his beliefs and eventually his heroics. I don't remember seeing a protagonist this likable in quite some time. Desmond Doss is almost naive and childish in what he thinks and how he acts. He's like that symbolic, well-meaning, innocent child inside us that most of us have buried somewhere in our hearts, making room for bitterness, hate and all kinds of crap that brings us down.
Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) was a man of faith, and you'll be hearing about his faith a lot. Mel Gibson will not downplay it at all, quite the opposite. Downplaying it would be doing a disservice to the now deceased Doss. If you normally get annoyed by such things, don't fret. This movie isn't judging anyone or pushing religion to anyone, it's just showing you one man's faith, and how it can possibly affect people around him too.
The structure of the movie is clearly divided in three parts, but you still feel like you're watching the same one story instead of three separate ones. The first part of the movie is setting up his character, and you get all the beautiful meadows, like if this was a Lassie-movie or something else totally innocent and pure. You get to see him grow up and fall in love. The middle part is about his struggles at the boot camp, and while you'd think you've seen it all in "Full Metal Jacket", here you'll find they're pushing for a different story with it, making it all worthwhile in this scenario. The last part is full-out war. While we saw shocking battles in "Saving Private Ryan" too, again the story of Doss (and what it means) requires the movie to shock us. And shock it does, because the violence is brutal and unforgiving. The first and last part are so different from each other, that when all the ugly violence of war kicks in, you feel like you're punched to the face. None of this is cynical, conflicting with the story or even exploitative. It works amazingly well with the story it's telling us.
Mel Gibson is a great director, he hasn't lost his touch. Everything on the screen has a purpose, and while his movies aren't the most subtle think-pieces, they are extremely effective and often heartfelt. With a lesser storyteller many of the events and characters would feel like placeholders or cardboard cutouts, and while some of them might be superficially just that, all of it is elevated. Andrew Garfield in the lead role is excellent. He truly gives a heartfelt performance. So no worries, he is really good in it, as is Hugo Weaving, Vince Vaughn (surprise!) and just about everybody else. Even Sam Worthington is alright. Special mentions go to Teresa Palmer and Rachel Griffiths, who don't have much screen time, but their small roles are important and they do a good job.
The cinematography and visual expression of "Hacksaw Ridge" is awesome. Expert camera-work, steady understanding of how a story can be told through visuals as well, not only through words. Many shots are so impressive that they will linger with me for a while, I'm sure of it. We also get a few beautiful shots with clear symbolic meanings to them, and most of them are very, very blunt - but somehow "Hacksaw Ridge" makes them work. They don't feel pretentious, and everything works so well together. Music is very good, often used, and extremely powerful when it needs to be (the string-heavy theme in the latter part of the movie still sticks with me).
There are elements in this film that can feel tacky and corny. There are the meadows when our protagonist is a child, there is the blunt symbolism, there are monologues/dialogues that are just a little bit too poetic and heavy. All of it tends to stick out at first, but for some reason none of it brings the movie down. In fact, the movie seems better because of them. It's like they took a lot of simple and heavy-handed things we've seen and heard before in movies to the point where they're clichés, but they made them work for the story. I guess all of it just adds to the charm of old-fashioned film-making that is very noticeable in this movie.
To summarize: "Hacksaw Ridge" is great. It's old-fashioned, very sentimental and doesn't hold itself back whenever it wants to tell or show you something. All of it works in favor of the movie. Powerful story told in a powerful way. I would recommend this to anyone, especially for those who have been yearning a more personal touch to their war movies, or for people who normally don't enjoy war movies at all. And unlike many other war movies, you leave this film satisfied and inspired. It's weird but it's true. You don't feel beaten down, but instead you're feeling quite hopeful. That's how powerful it is.