Well, look who’s back. Everyone’s favorite anti-Semitic, abusive, homophobe. Sitting there at the Oscars ceremony, all smug and smiling, happy to be part of the elite crowd again. Mel Gibson has returned. You see, this is why I couldn’t get all that worked up over Casey Affleck’s harassment allegations, that many thought would deny him the Best Actor Academy Award for “Manchester by the Sea” (it didn’t). Mel is proven scum, but there he was, with Best Picture nominee “Hacksaw Ridge”. Yeah, it’s a good film. I’m honest. That’s what sucks about the whole Gibson thing. He is talented. And we loved him.
Virginian Desmond Doss (a solid Andrew Garfield, in an Academy Award-nominated performance) realizes at an early age, that he absolutely abhors violence, and the idea of taking a human life. This feeling is accentuated, when he accidentally severely injures his brother Hal, during a childhood fight (Hal recovers). Maintaining a young adult life as a strict Seventh-day Adventist, Doss saves a man in a car crash, and then falls in love with the nurse he meets at the hospital (luminous Teresa Palmer as Dorothy). Then, to the chagrin of many, Desmond enlists in the army during WW II with the intention of serving as a medic, and refusing to carry a gun. But not everyone is accepting of his conscientious objector stance. And they let him know in a variety of ways.
Mel Gibson can be a skillful director, and all of his powers are evident here. The battle scenes are effective, and the transition of Doss from pariah to hero is presented in an entertaining and poignant manner. Yes, it does become a hagiography at a certain point. Yes, the screenplay fails to illuminate Doss, as anything other than a perfect person. But the story itself, and Doss’s acts of non-violent heroism, carry this beautifully. I believe a lot of credit for that belongs to Garfield. There is also a strong supporting cast that includes Sam Worthington, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, and Vince Vaughn. “Hacksaw Ride” won Oscars for Best Film Editing and Best Sound Mixing.