“How can a man with such hatred in his heart direct this beautiful epic of love and war, courage and sacrifice?”

HACKSAW RIDGE (2016) 10 Stars (on a 5 Stars scale)

hacksaw-ridge-movie-posterOscar winner Mel Gibson’s HACKSAW RIDGE is one of the finest films produced and directed this year. HACKSAW RIDGE is powerful and inspiring — destined to become a Hollywood classic as it eclipses Steven Spielberg’s SAVING PRIVATE RYAN for its devastating realism, horror and carnage of war. And communicates the strong theme that there is still goodness in the world.

(NOTE: The real-life Desmond Doss appears in the last minutes of this film, and includes footage from an interview with Doss conducted before his death, at 87, in 2006.)

I cannot believe that I am actually writing these words, but — thank you Mel Gibson, for this very personal gift of faith and conviction that comes from your heart and apparently your soul too. You know your craft. It sometimes actually felt to me watching the religious imagery and miracles found in this film, that Gibson was asking for personal forgiveness for his repeated anti-Semitic ravings. Your fifth feature film Mr. Gibson is a towering cinematic achievement and deserving of 10 Stars on a 5 Stars scale. It also must receive strong consideration for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Screenplay nominations. If Hollywood forgives, expect many technical nominations as well. All are well deserved.

Credit Mr. Gibson with his strong technical team, beginning with writers Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight. Together they took the time to flesh out each of the characters to the point that we actually care about each person portrayed up on the screen. We are so invested that we want each American soldier to survive. HACKSAW RIDGE is deeper than our personal faith. The lesson taught perhaps is that each of us can stand firm by their principals. Never back down. “Doss, you are the most courageous person I have ever known.” That is not an easy thing for any of us to believe today — having lived through and endured this 2016 Presidential Election.

There is critical consensus that Andrew Garfield, the star of HACKSAW RIDGE, will be running against himself for Best Actor of the Year. In HACKSAW RIDGE, Garfield plays real-life war hero Desmond Doss, a Seventh-day Adventist who as an Army medic, became the first conscientious objector to win the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor. Doss was honored for saving lives on the Okinowa battlefield during World War II despite his refusal to carry a gun. Next month, Garfield stars in the much anticipated Martin Scorsese film, SILENCE. He plays a 17th-century Jesuit priest who travels to Japan to promote Christianity and locate his mentor, who has gone missing.

The acting in HACKSAW RIDGE is uniformly solid. Garfield — with his grin, eyebrows, smile is absolutely flawless. He truly becomes that country kid from the Blue Ridge Mountains. Vince Vaughn playing Sarge, has never been better (and just may earn a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination). Gibson has assembled an enormous credited cast of 76 men and women. I especially want to name Hugo Weaving (THE MATRIX and LORD OF THE RINGS) who portrays Desmond’s alcoholic father, Tom Doss; Sam Worthington as Captain Glover; Teresa Palmer as Dorothy Schutte; Milo Gibson as Lucky Ford; Luke Bracey as Smitty; Rachel Griffiths as Bertha Doss and Nathaniel Buzolic as Harold Doss.

Music is by Rupert Gregson-Williams, Cinematography by Simon Duggan; Film Editing by John Gilbert; Production Design by Barry Robison; Art Direction by Jacinta Leong and Mark Robins; and Costume Design by Lizzy Gardiner. I expect an Oscar nomination for Sound and possibly Special and Visual Effects — which is especially competitive this year.

HACKSHAW RIDGE is Gibson’s valentine presented to America’s greatest generation, who pushed back against tyranny and won. In the end, this is not a Christian movie, for it is really a film representing and honoring all religious faiths. If you can stand all the gore, HACKSAW RIDGE should not be missed. There are so many exceptional visual moments in this film that are truly unforgettable. You will continue to carry these moments …..


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