Thursday, 26 January 2017


Stories of American heroism in wartime are a dime a dozen at the cinema, and always have been; many of them barely even worth that dime. Mel Gibson's outlook on these tedious tropes may lack for originality, but it compensates with bold, violent brio. Even as Hacksaw Ridge trudges through scene after scene of monotonous melodrama, its own sluggish prelude to war, there remains a constant promise of cathartic satisfaction in Gibson's broad, enthusiastic style. It's a promise fulfilled, though all of that is to state that Hacksaw Ridge is a thoroughly unremarkable, artless drill of war movie cliches up to a point. One remains convinced of that promise, perhaps only because one can't afford not to, but much as its fulfilment may forgive the film's prior sins, the fact is that those sins exist, and hinder it from achieving the iconic status to which it evidently aspires. Once Gibson unleashes the force of his brutish objective, Hacksaw Ridge becomes anything but unremarkable, and brands itself in brazen, blazing hot fashion as a war movie of iconic intent, at last. The effect may be expected, but its so startling as to be initially comical, the freakish release of all of the film's pent-up energy. These are magnificently choreographed action sequences, if at first perfunctory, and it's here and only here that Gibson's talents are displayed - he's an alarmingly strong director of carnage, and of little else. While a film meeting its markers may be the definition of success, these aren't exactly my kind of markers - the overt religious content leaves an especially sour impression in my memory.