Fans of nuance and understatement should look away now. Mel Gibson doesn’t do those.
“Hacksaw Ridge” tells you again and again that war is hell. Faceless enemies get slaughtered as much as the good guys do.
We start off simply enough. Child actor Darcy Bryce plays the young Desmond Doss, growing up poor with a violent father. Dad is played by a splendidly sinister Hugo Weaving.
Andrew Garfield is the older Doss while Teresa Palmer is his love interest.
Doss was a conscientious objector who signed up for World War Two, with surprising results. The less you know going into this, the better.
Apart from the absolute lack of subtlety, it’s quite a compelling story. Garfield shows how Doss struggles and the various army people are all shown as people with different characteristics.
At two hours and 19 minutes, it’s a long watch and 20 minutes or so could have gone, without losing anything of importance. But it’s a good war movie with a less-known story and my attention only strayed to my watch a couple of times.
Stratford East Picturehouse was very full. There were more men than women, but everyone paid attention to the story on the screen.
There are philosophical questions posed, but this is quite a religious war film and I am not completely comfortable with the way I felt that the message clobbered me, again and again.
But Gibson is an entertainer and he knows how to keep things rolling along, as a director.