Review: ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ Blasts Into the Academy Awards Race

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Published November 11, 2016
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The Montclarion
Photo from IMDB
photo courtesy of wikipedia.org

photo courtesy of wikipedia.org

The Academy Awards season is quickly approaching and the race for Best Picture is off and running. “Hacksaw Ridge” is the latest release that will without a doubt be nominated for Best Picture this winter. Based on an amazing true story, this World War II masterpiece is an easy frontrunner at this point. Of course, there is a long way to go before all the potential nominees are released, but it’s going to be difficult to beat “Hacksaw Ridge.”

The Mel Gibson directed film tells the story of one of the unknown heroes of WWII, Private First Class Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), who saved approximately 75 lives over the course of a single night during the Americans’ battle to take over Okinawa, Japan. Doss, a Seventh-day Adventist, refused to touch a gun or kill anybody in battle, yet felt it was his duty to enlist in the Army. He felt his way to serve his country was to save lives rather than take them by being a medic.

The first incredible part of this story is that Doss was continually pressured by his commanding officers to drop out of the Army. They pressured Doss to quit by forcing him to do grunt work and undesirable chores. Some of his platoon mates even beat him up in the middle of the night, but Doss never gave up.

The Army eventually allowed Doss to go into battle without a weapon. The members of the platoon felt Doss was a coward, but their thoughts on him changed when he stayed on the battlefield after the Americans retreated to save as many injured soldiers as he could. Since the movie is based on a true story, it’s no surprise that the story was slightly changed to make a better feature.

One inaccuracy is revealed in a video montage at the end of the film. During an interview, the real Doss said that he saved Captain Glover (portrayed by Sam Worthington) after the battle and poured water over his eyes to clean off the caked up blood that prevented him from seeing. During the film, Captain Glover is spared from any injuries, and Doss saves someone else in the same matter that was described in the video. It’s odd that they would specifically tell you that they changed a fact of the story. It also doesn’t make sense as to why this was changed.

Other than minor story changes, the film is as accurate as imaginable as to how warfare took place during WWII. The film is incredibly gory, bloody, violent and realistic during some of the most intense battle sequences I have ever seen. The practical effects were exquisite and made the action hard to watch. The battles were unsettling with the amount of gore and violence that ensued. Gibson did an excellent job with presenting the story and creating a great film. He is likely to score an Academy Award nomination as well.

One of the surprising elements of the film was Vince Vaughn as Sargent Howell. Vaughn, known best for his countless comedy works, was fantastic in a very dramatic and serious role. He was a very believable Army seargent and did a great job with being intense. He was even able to add some of his signature comedy to the mix while tormenting some of his privates. It was a great surprise to see Vaughn excel in this type of role.

“Hacksaw Ridge” is the first serious Academy Award contender of the season. The presentation, story and writing come together to make a WWII masterpiece. The film is a must-see, if you don’t mind some gore and intense violence. It’s been a while since a great war film has been released, so “Hacksaw Ridge” is a breath of much-needed fresh air.

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