Hacksaw Ridge ★½

Mel Gibson starred in the simple-minded Vietnam epic ”We Were Soldiers” in 2002, where clichéd patriotism and American Christian propaganda just became too much for me to take. Same thing with ”Hacksaw Ridge” (directed by Gibson), with the addition of a Forrest Gump guy and the most corny scenes ever to be seen in modern day cinema (the first 30 minutes are absolutely insane, WTF is this crap?!).

I heard ”Hacksaw Ridge” was a two hour gorefest of blood and guts and fire and rats, but that’s not correct. It follows a classic 30-minute formula: The first 30 minutes are about Desmond Doss’ childhood and adolescence, the next about his early days in the US Army and it’s only after having suffered 60 minutes of pure cringe that we’re finally off to Okinawa. The year is 1945 and the rest of the film (neatly divided in two 30 minute parts) is spent on this small hill called Hacksaw Ridge.

The war scenes are pretty intense, I can give them that. When I saw ”Saving Private Ryan” (1998) I thought that was the peak of war violence, but Hollywood keeps upping the ante for every war movie. Yeah, I imagine this is what this war looked like, but not once does Gibson make me understand what war feels like. It’s just mindless over the top action. The real conchie Desmond Doss was obviously a true hero, spending 12 hours alone on that hill rescuing 75 men, but the film does nothing for me. I feel zip for the people being killed and for them being saved, because character development is not built by the Hollywood String Quartet. And Gibson’s obsession with cheap religious themes (turn the other cheek, make blind people see, legless people walk etc) just makes me irritated. At least the set designers and camera folks did their thing, because the war scenes look fantastic.

Unfortunately, bombastic music and raging war scenes will probably make people like this film more than it deserves. That goddamn first hour of cheesiness killed my brain, and I will never forget that. God forgives, I don’t.