The intense war drama directed by Mel Gibson tells the true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), an army medic who saved the lives of over seventy men at Hacksaw Ridge. The movie is carried by strong supporting performances by veteran actors like Hugo Weaving, Vince Vaughn, and Sam Worthington but relies heavily on the young Garfield. He is backed up by Teresa Palmer as his future wife and Luke Bracey whose career is growing as a fellow soldier.
The story has a slow start with Desmond as a young boy as he comes to his face after an altercation between him and his brother. Weaving is brutal as a veteran of World War I and drinks through the rest of his life overcome with grief after the loss of his friend. The movie explores Doss's courtship of Dorothy (Palmer) and eventually his enlistment.
Once enlisted, Doss encounters a wall of doubt and ridicule from his commanding officers including Sgt. Howell (Vaughn) who is especially rough on him. Vaughn is impressive as the drill sergeant and heads into war alongside his men. Doss does not shed the doubt of his fellow soldiers until the brutal war scene at Hacksaw Ridge. Gibson does not relent on the action pushing the excruciating violence to a horrifying extent that shows the awfulness of war.
When Doss refuses to retreat and heads back out into the carnage to save the surviving men, the tension rises. The Japanese soldiers charge out and as the threat grows, Doss still refuses to pick up a weapon, choosing to run and hide only to return and save the injured men. The story is truly inspiring and heartbreaking and the movie captures the emotional journey of this harrowing tale.
As the temperature, the quality of movies rises and Hacksaw Ridge is a clear example of the best of what 2016 will have to offer. The acting is superb, the direction moving, and the story inspiring. I don't know what else will come this year, but Hacksaw Ridge is at the top of my films for the year.