Gib­son’s war hero tale a bru­tal as­sault on the senses

Bray People - - ENTERTAINMENT -


DI­REC­TOR Mel Gib­son re­turns, all guns blaz­ing, with a riv­et­ing wartime drama based on the true story of Des­mond Doss, who served with val­our dur­ing the Sec­ond World War with­out hav­ing to fire a sin­gle bul­let.

He be­came the first con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tor to re­ceive Amer­ica’s high­est mil­i­tary award, the Medal of Honor, which is be­stowed on the pre­cious few who have dis­tin­guished them­selves with in­cred­i­ble gal­lantry be­yond the call of duty.

In Doss’ ex­tra­or­di­nary case, he ran into a hail of Ja­panese bul­lets in May 1945 at the Bat­tle of Ok­i­nawa, with­out a weapon to re­turn fire, and risked his life to res­cue in­jured sol­diers from the blood-soaked bat­tle­ground.

In an era of ques­tion­able moral­ity, when prin­ci­ples are re­peat­edly com­pro­mised for the sake of self­ish gain, one man’s in­spi­ra­tional jour­ney of right­eous self-sac­ri­fice is an in­vig­o­rat­ing tonic.

Gib­son di­rects with verve, or­ches­trat­ing hellish bat­tle scenes.

Aerial bom­bard­ments scythe through flesh, rip­ping limbs from tor­sos or ex­plod­ing cra­ni­ums as a well-tar­geted bul­let ca­reens through an eye socket.

The sense­less slaugh­ter of young men in the prime of their lives is heart­break­ing es­mond (An­drew Garfield) is born and raised with his brother Hal (Nathaniel Bu­zolic) in Lynch­burg, Vir­ginia against the pic­turesque back­drop of the Blue Ridge Moun­tains. His father Tom (Hugo Weav­ing) is an emo­tion­ally scarred vet­eran of the First World War and mother Bertha (Rachel Grif­fiths) ed­u­cates her brood us­ing the Bi­ble.

At an early age, Des­mond al­most kills Hal and he is haunted by the episode.

‘ To take an­other man’s life is the most egre­gious sin,’ coun­sels Bertha.

Her words have a pro­found ef­fect on Des­mond, who takes up a vow of paci­fism, even when he en­rols in the US Army.

He in­tends to fol­low the lead of his nurse girl­friend, Dorothy Schutte (Teresa Palmer), and serve as a medic.

How­ever, Des­mond is ush­ered into com­bat train­ing un­der no-non­sense Sergeant How­ell ( Vince Vaughn) and in­stantly makes en­e­mies of the rest of the squad, es­pe­cially bul­ly­ing ring­leader Smitty Ryker (Luke Bracey), by re­fus­ing to carry arms.

Des­mond’s de­fi­ance leads to his ar­rest for in­sub­or­di­na­tion and he faces a trial be­hind closed doors over­seen by Cap­tain Glover (Sam Wor­thing­ton) and Cap­tain Stelzer (Richard Roxburgh).

Hack­saw Ridge pulls no punches in its de­pic­tion of the hor­rors of con­flict.

Garfield de­liv­ers a mes­meris­ing lead per­for­mance, as a gen­tle and car­ing man who yearns to serve the coun­try he loves, but isn’t will­ing to aban­don his mo­ral com­pass in the name of pa­tri­o­tism.

Gib­son’s bravura di­rec­tion mar­ries mo­ments of silent, ag­o­nis­ing re­gret with ex­plo­sions of deaf­en­ing py­rotech­nic spec­ta­cle.

It’s a bru­tal, un­com­pro­mis­ing as­sault on the senses that tunes into Doss’ re­li­gious be­liefs and clings onto them when tear­ful ca­pit­u­la­tion seems like the only op­tion. RAT­ING: 8/10

An­drew Garfield as Des­mond T. Doss in Hack­sawRidge.

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