Was Mel Gibson heavily inspired by Captain America : The First Avenger? Because it sure as hell looked like it. I know this movie is based on a true story but so was Saving Private Ryan. Okay, SPR was loosely based, but if felt more realistic than this. Just to put this into perspective, I love Mel Gibson. I loved all his previous directorial ventures and all those movies were hard-hitting and sometimes a bit too realistic for my appetite. So I was expecting this to be as good, or even better, than what he has done already. Before I begin I’ll say this that I mean no disrespect to the soldiers who were part of this operation on Hacksaw Ridge or to the people who liked the movie. Just saying this because I think a movie based on real-life incidents is a sensitive topic, so I am just forewarning the readers.
SCREENPLAY – So we follow the story of Desmond T. Doss. During his childhood he accidentally hits his brother and pledges to not raise his hand again. He becomes a man of faith, falls in love and enrols in the army and he stays true to his ideal. I found the premise extremely interesting. A man going to war without a fire-arm, but it takes one complete hour to reach the war-zone. It’s okay to take one hour to set-up the character of the man whom we are going to follow throughout the war but it doesn’t set up anything. Now, I don’t know about everybody else, but I didn’t feel his urge to join the army.
Every time there is a scene which is basically building up his eagerness to join the army is cut off by the love angle. The first time it was okay, but as it was done so many times that it really got on my nerves. So when he actually arrives to the army camp, I didn’t relate with his motivation to join the army. It was understandable from the synopsis but the writers(Robert Schnekkan and Andrew Knight) took way too much time to setup his love life.
The boot-camp sequence felt really rushed and kinda lightweight in nature. As the movie required to begin the war sequence, there was no time to show the grinding that Desmond was facing. There are so many examples : Full Metal Jacket, Jarhead and even Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and these movies were made so many years back. This is 2017! The exposition heavy intro to each and every member was just cringe-worthy. The writers have previously written TV movies, so it is understandable but not bearable.
DIRECTION – I am not going to pull any punches in this department. I like the man, I like his acting, I like his direction but this was a very very amateur direction. The first half of the movie was an out and out bore-fest. Look, I totally understand the need to create feelings for the character or show the reason why Doss doesn’t want to pick up the gun and it was established in the first scene where he hit his brother. Now just speed things up, please.
This movie actually reminded me of Pearl Harbour. The difference is that here the love-story is real and in Pearl Harbour, it wasn’t but the treatment is pretty much the same. The war sequences were particularly disappointing. It looked like a lot of effort went into those action-packed sequences but there just wasn’t any punch. I can’t believe that war sequences in 1979 felt more hard-hitting than in 2017.
There was one particular scene which achieve the desired effect and that was the dream sequence where Desmond dreams he is being attacked by the Japs. Then again we are back to the uninspired bullet-whizzing action scenes. The trailers featured so much Andrew Garfield that I thought that there will be a lot of him but I was so irritated when they kept cutting back to the army camp(when Doss was rescuing the soldiers) instead of keeping it focused on Doss because Andrew Garfield was doing such an amazing job as Doss.
Now, I don’t know how technically sound it is. I probably would have noticed if I had the mood to watch it a second time, but I don’t. The colour felt absolutely flat. The CGI sky was so noticeable. They even reused few shots, thinking that nobody would notice. The background noise was actually drowning the dialogue in the army-camp scenes and characters were talking to each other without any problem when bombs were going off every 2 seconds. Logic, where art thou?
ACTING – Andrew Garfield is the only thing to watch in this movie. He is amazing. Now, I don’t know much about accents but I think his accent was pretty good and as far as I remember, there were no off moments from him. Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths and even Nathaniel Buzolic were great as the Doss family.
Everybody else was just simply miscast in their respective roles. Sam Worthington and Vince Vaughn fell flat. Even though I love Teresa Palmer, she gave a very average performance. Luke Bracey had so much screen-time and I think he forgot his acting kit at home. I don’t know what the hell was wrong with the casting. I don’t know whether it was the direction or the writing but everyone felt bland and devoid of expressions and emotions.
FINAL VERDICT – I am just deeply disappointed. This mess of a movie has 8.3/10 on Imdb. I don’t know what kind of drug everybody consumed while watching this movie, but do parcel me a sample of it. I know nobody will take my advice after seeing the ratings but I’ll honestly tell you to give it a pass. I know the poster looks amazing, but the movie isn’t, in any way, whatsoever.
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