Mel does it again. What an excellent addition to the WWII film canon. Hacksaw tells the story of a conscientious objector who serves in the military without even holding a gun. And since they made a movie about him, you can imagine that there are some heroics involved.
Andrew Garfield plays Desmond in a manner which is very “shucks, golly”, but I will admit it grew on me. The first half of the movie he has to deal with everyone around him thinking he’s a coward without them realizing his courage come from standing up for his convictions. Of course we know that they will make that realization eventually, yet its still damn satisfying when they do anyway.
It actually takes half the movie before they reach war, as Gibson spends that time establishing Desmond’s life with his family, including an awesome performance by Hugo Weaving as his father, and his budding romance with Dorothy, played charmingly by Teresa Palmer. We also see the legal battles he faced inside the military.
I’ve heard lots of complaints about how slow the first half is or how schmaltzy or stereotypical it is, but I didn’t feel that way. I was engaged the whole time. In the second half when they reach Okinawa things get really intense and Desmond’s story comes full circle. The battle sequences are impressive, but its his story at the center of it which really made it special.