Hacksaw Ridge

Mel Gibson is a certain director -- deliberate and robust, not interested in subtlety or nuance. His world is stark and painful. His film Hacksaw Ridge is all of that and as uncompromising as its hero, Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector during WW II who saved the lives of dozens of American soldiers during a bloody battle in Okinawa. Doss, played by the wonderfully engaging Andrew Garfield, is the son of an embittered WW I veteran, a terrific Hugo Weaving. The younger Doss wants to serve but his religious convictions keep him from taking up a gun. Still he enlists as a noncombatant in an infantry platoon. After attempts to first get him to quit and then to imprison him fail, Doss becomes a medic and in that capacity becomes a war hero. Gibson is no stranger to sanctimony and this film puts God front and center as the motivation for Doss's extraordinary feats but avoids asking why God would allow the savagery that fills every frame in the last third of the picture. The film is part celebration and part indictment and as sickening as it is self-righteous.

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