Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Hacksaw Ridge - Movie Review

Take a boy who almost kills his brother in a childhood game and is mortified by his act especially since his religion has told him not to kill. One other time he almost succumbs to anger and pulls the gun on his father who is abusing his mother. The Seventh Day Adventist then resolves never to touch a weapon in his life. But then the World War II happens and all the young men sign up including our boy Desmond Doss. But Doss joins as a medic and as a conscientious objector. In a war where people will fight to kill, he will try to save lives. That is the belief that Doss sets off to war with - and a bible given by his girl friend.

Doss is taunted by his regiment about his convictions for not touching or handling a gun and for taking Saturday off for sabbath. They beat him, humiliate him, try to get him out of the unit, believing he is a coward, even trying to get him out on charges of insanity. Doss remains steadfast and finally he is allowed to go with a reluctant unit without a gun. The unit goes to the place in Second World War known to have some of the fiercest fighting, an estimated 80,000 deaths, between the Japanese and the Allied forces. With their backs to the wall and the kamikaze suicidal attacks, the Japanese inflict heavy casualties on the unit that Doss's unit is to relieve. To deal with the Japanese the unit has to scale the Hacksaw Ridge and pretty much fight a fierce Japanese unit bent on dying. The Japs inflict heavy casualties and force the US Army unit off the ridge. Doss stays back, helping the wounded. The next day the Japanese drive everyone else off the ridge but Doss stays back to provide aid to severely wounded soldiers who were left for dead - including a severely wounded Japanese soldier. One by one he drags them to the ridge and lets them down with a rope, all alone. Doss saves 75 lives in his heroic effort, each time fighting exhaustion and fatigue in his attempt to 'save one more life'.

The entire unit is inspired by Doss's courage and wants to regroup and attack the Japanese again but they will not go this time without Doss. Doss makes a concession and goes with them on a Saturday, but after reading his prayers, and repeats his heroics. This time his unit is successful and takes over the ridge. Doss is severely injured and taken off the ridge but not before he asks his friend to get him his bible. Doss survived, married his girl friend and lived till 2006.

Andrew Garfield as Desmond Doss is perfectly cast with his soft, vulnerable ways. Mel Gibson is back with a bang. Gore, guts, blood all over and this wonderful message of peace weaving its way in the midst of all the violence, unarmed. Wow. Loved it. How far can you stretch your belief? What can you achieve if you believe? Hacksaw Ridge is all about the power of belief.

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