After ten years, Mel Gibson finally returns to the director’s chair with Hacksaw Ridge, the story of Desmond Doss, the American Seventh Day Adventist who refused to fire a gun during World War II. Despite Private First Class (PFC) Doss’ religious convictions against using weapons, a position that initially earned the scorn of his peers and superiors, Doss placed his energy into saving his comrades’ lives, rather than killing the enemy. During his time on the battlefield, Doss consistently risked his life by dragging grenade-injured soldiers off active war zones, eventually saving over 70 men. President Harry Truman awarded Doss for his courage with the Medal of Honor in November 1945.
Hacksaw Ridge is that rare war film that truly piques my interest. Too recently I’ve seen war movies that merely depict the brutality of gunfire and death (American Sniper) or the ferociousness of politics (Zero Dark Thirty), and while these films are competently made, I felt cold and shaken after viewing them. While I’m sure Hacksaw Ridge will be no less grisly than director Gibson’s Braveheart and Apocalypto, this movie seems to have a tinge of optimism, of pure heart to preserve, not destroy. In the trailer, Doss (played with a Virginian drawl by Andrew Garfield) says,
“With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it doesn’t seem like such a bad thing, to me, to want to put a little bit of it back together.”
Hacksaw Ridge opens nationwide on Friday, November 4th. It is distributed by Summit Entertainment.
MARK BAUTISTA | KXSU Arts Reporter