I’ve decided I don’t really want to do ‘a review.’ Picking how many stars to give, analysing each element of the book or film or program. It’s always subjective, so I’m just going to have a chat about a thing I saw!
Okay, let’s talk about Hacksaw Ridge.
My husband and I went to see this film on Friday, just on a whim because we were going swimming, the pool had closed early and we were looking for something else to do. We have this agreement that between new superhero releases (the one genre we agree on) he will tolerate fantasy for me and I put up with his ‘boring war films’. I went in knowing absolutely nothing about the story, but they’re all the same, right? Group of people all dressed in uniform, whose names you never remember, waving guns around. Some of them die, you know which ones because they always have a pregnant girlfriend at home…
My gosh was this different!
I went in with total apathy and came out with tears in my eyes. This wasn’t the story of a personality-devoid tough guy, it’s about a real hero. Desmond Doss was part of the US army in the second world war, but he refused to kill people- he just wanted to save lives. I won’t say too much about the actual story, you just need to know that it’s utterly gripping.
The ‘based on a true story’ tag usually makes my skin crawl, it’s a guarantee of no magic or alternate worlds. In this case, it just blew my mind even more. If someone had invented a character with such strong convictions, deep compassion and incredible bravery I would be enthralled by them, but this happened.
In a way, Hacksaw Ridge felt like two different films to me. The first half was the story of Desmond joining the army and fighting for his right to be a medic, even though he wouldn’t use a gun. This made you really empathise with the character and had some of the funniest scenes I’ve ever seen in this sort of film, the way the sergeant verbally trounced everyone was hilarious! I’m a sucker for a well-constructed insult.
Then came the fighting. I have to warn you, these are not Hollywood war scenes, it doesn’t make it look cool or exciting. It’s horrific and gritty and, I can only imagine, realistic. You get a real sense of the awful danger these men are in, which makes Desmond’s actions during it even more admirable.
I should say that if you are sensitive to gory visuals, this isn’t the film for you, don’t watch it. But maybe you should just close your eyes on those bits? Because you’d really be missing out if you didn’t.
Has anyone else seen this film? What did you think? And who’s going to be the first to tell me off for insulting army movies?