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Hacksaw Ridge

Jonathan Hinshaw - Saturday, November 05, 2016

This week we saw an excellent movie, Hacksaw Ridge, starring Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spiderman, The Amazing Spiderman 2), Hugo Weaving (The Matrix, Captain America), Rachel Griffiths (Brothers & Sisters-TV, Blow), Teresa Palmer (I Am Number Four, Thee Sorcerer’s Apprentice), Sam Worthington (Avatar, Clash of the Titans), Vince Vaughn (The Internship, Wedding Crashers), and introducing Milo Gibson, Mel’s sixth child, who says his father leaves “Big shoes to fill”. 

Mel is the director, coming off a 2006 movie called Apocalypto, which 4 people saw.  This is a true story about Desmond Doss, who served in the Army in WWII, and became the first Conscientious Objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor.   The movie starts out with him as a young man with Hugo as his father, Rachel as his mom.  There are some dramatic family scenes, his dad was an alcoholic, mom did the best she could.  His brother signs up for the army, Desmond decides to do the same.  Just before he signs, he falls in love with a nurse, Teresa.  Ready to go to boot camp, going to get married when he comes home on first leave.  Only problem, he is a Seventh Day Adventist, believes he should not kill another human, won’t even pick up a gun.  The army feels otherwise, especially in war time. 

When he gets into boot camp, he is verbally and physically punished by the platoon and the sergeant, played well by Vince Vaughn.  Since he will not even touch a rifle, he is tossed into the Military Prison, awaiting a court marshal.  Works out he is released to active duty, what he wanted in the first place, and heads off to Okinawa, where the Japanese are in control of the entire island.  Be warned, this is a realistic war movie, along the lines of Saving Private Ryan, where we watched the Americans get gunned down in the D-Day invasion.  Only this time, we see our boys climbing up rope ladders on a huge cliff, where the enemy waits at the top.  In Private Ryan, the carnage was at the beginning, in this movie, it is in the last 45 minutes.  And carnage it is.  This is one of the bloodiest movies we have ever seen, lots of arms and legs missing, entrails laying on the battlefield, it is tough to watch. 

Sam Worthington plays the Captain leading his men into almost certain death, when they arrive on Okinawa, they are greeted by hundreds of war shocked GIs coming off the ridge, it is not a good sight.  The guys assemble at the foot of a tall cliff, ropes are the only way up, and the bad guys own the top of the hill.  They come over, got the navy firing lots of big guns to soften the opposition, clear a path.  Turns out the Japs had a huge underground nest of tunnels, the navy warships did little damage to their forces.  They hit a couple of bunkers, wipe out a machine gun nest, seems to be going our way.  Night fall, our boys take a break.  The enemy does not, and early morning they attack with a vengeance.  Wave after wave, we are overrun, Vince sounds the retreat. 

All the while, our boy Desmond is a working medic, he has no weapon, but lots of courage, running out to help the wounded time and time again.  The night we are overrun, he stays up on the top while the others climb back down.  He offers a prayer, Lord, let me help one more.  All night long. 

If you have seen the trailer, you know he single handedly saves dozens of men that night.  Stays in the battle field the next day, roping down man after man to the medics below.  Still with no weapon to defend himself.  An amazing story.   

 This was one of the best movies ever, even with the bloodshed.  Mel has told a story that needed to be told.  Stay for the end credits, we see actual video of Desmond and his company commander as well as the sergeant.   Great movie, we will go with 4.5 military inductees.  

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