Hacksaw Ridge (2016) Movie Review

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Desmond Doss played life on the hardest possible level and had a smile on his face the entire time… How is that even possible?

Hacksaw Ridge tells the incredible true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) as he enlists in the US Army during WWII. He also happens to be a conscientious objector and wants only to save the lives of his men rather than kill another human being. It is an addition to Mel Gibson’s insane directing filmography and also stars Teresa PalmerVince Vaughn, and Sam Worthington.

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

Hacksaw Ridge is the kind of movie where you discuss it with your peers hours after watching it. The first half of this film is a beautiful character piece on a simple man with firm beliefs as he woos the love of his life and struggles with enlisting as “killing” is essentially top priority in war and he holds the opposite belief of that mantra. The second half of this film is a brutal, graphic depiction of the Hacksaw Ridge battle in Okinawa during World War II and fucking hell, it was deliciously brilliant. The battle sequences in Hacksaw Ridge, particularly the very first one, rivals that of Steven Spielberg’s 1998 classic Saving Private RyanThat is how great they are.

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Speaking solely on the war sequence aspect of it, they are essentially flawless. Some emotional moments may have lingered a bit longer than I prefer however the second they hit Okinawa to the closing credits, the tension overpowered me at certain parts and the odds of victory were insurmountable. I had no idea who Desmond Doss was and what the battle for Hacksaw Ridge was so watching this battle was so enjoyable, regardless of the horrific violence occurring on screen. War is hardcore, man. Director Gibson does not shy away from the rawness of it and I appreciate it wholeheartedly.

Andrew Garfield is a revelation as Doss. This is easily the best performance he’s given in his career (in my opinion) and he owned every single moment he was on screen. I would not be surprised at all if he received an Academy Award nom for his portrayal as the real-life medic since his character is well acted and fleshed out, I felt an immediate connection with him and wanted to see his arc progress. The chemistry was phenomenal with not only his love interest, portrayed wonderfully by Teresa Palmer, but with every character he interacted with. Hugo Weaving was brilliant as Doss’ veteran father and Rachel Griffiths of Six Feet Under fame, AKA my personal favourite TV series of all-time, was equally wonderful. The secondary characters were all fine however I have to say, when I saw Vince Vaughn, all I could think of was “yup, that’s Vince Vaughn.” He wasn’t bad or anything, he was serviceable… It’s just certain insults he was delivering made me think he was his Wedding Crashers character undercover as a Sergeant.

I have to say, I didn’t expect the film to delve so deeply into the relationship between Doss and his future wife Dorothy as much as it did during the first half but I appreciate the decision for it. Besides his faith, Doss’ love for his wife was a major aspect to his character and if you didn’t feel as connected to her as he was, the entire second half would’ve been for moot. Thankfully, the relationship between the two is executed so perfectly and that connection is certainly achieved.

How Were The Other Aspects Of Hacksaw Ridge?

Mel Gibson’s direction is easily one of my favourite aspects of this film. He is a genius behind the camera and his ability to shoot the rawness and terror of war is simply beautiful. The “true story” aspect to it as well initially made me think, “hmm.. I’m pretty sure most of this succumbed to the Hollywoodization of the ‘Based On A True Story’ line, which is totally fine because it’s a movie and must be entertaining first and foremost”… However, in an interview with The Today Show Gibson mentioned (~3:55 of the link) another absolutely crazy thing Doss did in real life that they chose not to add to the movie because it would have been “so unbelievable”, as Gibson puts it.

After [Doss] gets the shrapnel and he’s carried off on a stretcher… He sees a guy who’s been shot and he jumps off the stretcher, tends to his wounds and says put him on the stretcher then he crawls back as he’s being shot at by snipers.

Clay Davis accurately sums up my feelings on the matter


There are plenty of beautiful shots in the film with a few instances of musical usage that pulled on the heartstrings a bit, there is one particular sequence that actually uses no score whatsoever and instead all you hear are the sounds of war that is scarily effective. Small warning though: if you have a weak stomach, you may feel the need to close your eyes occasionally.

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If you’re a fan of brutal depictions of war and characters you want to actually care about, check out Hacksaw Ridge.

Hungry For More Reviews? Check Out The Following:

Hacksaw Ridge receives 4.5/5 Matt Damon heads.


sources used: [1], [2]

Lights Out (2016) Movie Review


The Babadook & Insidious had a baby and that lovely baby’s name is Lights Out.

I remember watching & loving director David F. Sandberg‘s short film of the same name a couple years ago and when I first heard it was going to receive the Hollywood full-length adaptation, hesitation immediately washed over me… I am ecstatic to say that hesitation was proven wrong because Lights Out is an incredible movie.

Lights Out tells the story of a dysfunctional family who faces an entity that only appears when the lights go out, as the title would suggest. I don’t wish to delve any deeper than that because I believe horror movies are best to go into relatively blind but I will say, the concept of Lights Out is incredibly intriguing and I was honestly captivated throughout the film. Teresa Palmer and Gabriel Bateman portray siblings and oh man, their acting and chemistry were amazing. Palmer specifically had the most to work with and I thought she did brilliantly: ranging from being a melancholic, cool cat to nailing those severely intense emotional moments that pulled at my heart strings a bit. The relationship between her & her boyfriend Bret (Brad?) played by Alexander DiPersia aka I-Swear-That-Is-Daario-Naharis was refreshing to see because he was not just a dumb dumb boyfriend that is placed there solely for pseudo-conflict for the main character and her family.

When it comes to the actual story & progression of events, I loved every single moment of this movie. Since the runtime is essentially an hour and a half, there is virtually no wasted dialogue which translates to every scene having some level of importance to them, there is incredible development to the characters throughout the movie AND, what is arguably the greatest aspect to it, you genuinely care for these characters and their well being. Why I appreciated this movie so much is because the filmmakers made an effort to flesh out the characters and have themes the audience can potentially relate to, like mental illness and an overwhelming need to protect the innocent. The psychological aspects to it enhanced the movie immensely and I loved the various explanations sprinkled throughout of how the mother’s illness affected her family. There was a history to this family that you felt immediately and wanted to see their story & relationship progress more and more! I wish they expanded a bit more on the mythos of the entity, however I was satisfied with its backstory and how it tied into the relationship with the family.

Now the horror aspect to it… There were a few moments that had the toes curling & hair on the back of the neck stand up. Now I’ve mentioned this before in past reviews that I’m not a huge fan of boomWHUPPAH-type jump scares unless they are done well. There are many instances of such scares in this movie however for me personally, they really worked to enhance the horror aspect to it. It is also a gorgeous looking movie, probably one of the best looking horror films I’ve seen, rivaling that of The Conjuring (2013). This movie is honestly worth watching for the beautiful looking scenes alone, credit due to cinematographer Marc Spicer… There is also a sequence during the final act involving the boyfriend and his brilliant utilization of light that caused me and the audience I was watching with to simply be in awe.

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If you’re a fan of horror done with a story and characters you actually care about and want to feel invested in their world, check out Lights Out.

Lights Out receives 4.5/5 Matt Damon heads.