Most of HACKSAW RIDGE is so conventional, it is admirable. It is a sweeping period piece epic that really doesn’t get made anymore, and if it does, it lacks the heart and soul that Gibson brings to this film. The battle sequence that is prominently featured in the trailer is truly awesome; it showcases Gibson’s supreme talent as a visual storyteller, blending CGI effects with practical explosions.
Gibson cast this film well. While at times it is strange seeing so many Australians and Europeans playing American GI’s, but never once does their native accent bleed through. Each actor selected for their respective role looks and feels the part, particularly the GI’s battling on Hacksaw Ridge. Vince Vaughn’s rebirth into dramatic roles is not getting enough attention. He really does America this film up monumentally, and he steals every single frame he is in.
The sweeping score by Rupert Gregson-Williams is fantastic, and the music wonderfully supports the epic visuals that Gibson carefully crafts. Simon Duggan’s cinematography is near perfect, making every shot in the film seamless and organic. The props, set design, costumes, and battlefield aesthetics are so on point, it makes the viewer wonder how much time was spent making sure they got everything just right.
The film certainly runs the risk of its religious conviction subject matter becoming overbearing, the point is clearly made, and made again, yet regardless of your personal beliefs, you cannot help but admire and applaud Desmond Doss as a hero. Andrew Garfield’s turn as Doss is very good, but in a year of overwhelmingly solid performances from male leads, it is a bit surprising he got nominated, but considering the Academy’s abundant love for the picture, it makes sense.
A lot has, and continues to be said about Gibson and his previous transgressions. But for those of us who can separate a person’s personal life from their art – this is a flat-out welcomed return from a cinematic titan who has been sorely missed. HACKSAW RIDGE may not be more worthy than other films that missed being nominated for Best Picture, but after viewing the film, you can’t be upset that the film and Gibson were nominated.