Prayer Focus
Click here to watch THE HOPE on-line!
Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge also known as “Tu ne tueras point,” “A fegyvertelen katona,” “Até o Último Homem,” “O Herói de Hacksaw Ridge,” “Pjuklo ketera,” “Przelecz ocalonych”

MPAA Rating: R for intense prolonged realistically graphic sequences of war violence including grisly bloody images.

Reviewed by: Curtis McParland
CONTRIBUTOR

Average—with strong caution
Add to your list?
View your list
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Biography War History Romance Drama
Length:
2 hr. 11 min.
Year of Release:
2016
USA Release:
November 4, 2016 (wide—2,886 theaters)
Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films

conscientious objectors

pacifism

The 6th Commandment to the Israelites says, “You shall not MURDER,” not you shall not KILL.

What is the Biblical perspective on war? Answer

war in the Bible


bravery / courage / self-sacrifice

standing up for what you believe


FILM VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer


“The project was originally brought to Hollywood by screenwriter/producer Gregory Crosby through the efforts of Stan Jensen of the Seventh-day Adventist Church” (Wikipedia). In 2004, Doss was the subject of a Pax TV docudrama, “The Conscientious Objector.”

Featuring: Andrew Garfield … Desmond T. Doss, WWII American Army Medic (a Corporal)
Teresa Palmer … Dorothy Schutte
Hugo WeavingTom Doss
Sam WorthingtonCaptain Glover
Luke Bracey … Smitty
Vince VaughnSergeant Howell
more »
Director: Mel Gibson
Producer: AI-Film
Argent Pictures
more »
Distributor: Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). These are just a few of the many words of Scripture shared by Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield) in the opening scene of “Hacksaw Ridge.” As soldiers get riddled with bullets, blown by grenades, and set ablaze, Desmond’s soothing voiceover shines a light and reassures the audience that there is in fact a God who is always watching over us. “Hacksaw Ridge” shares the true story of Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector in WWII and how he came to save over 75 lives in one of the bloodiest battles in history, the Battle of Okinawa, without ever bearing arms.

Desmond grew up as a Seventh-Day Adventist, observed the Sabbath on a Saturday, and had a strong faith in God. Desmond did not have a perfect family life, by any means, though, as his father was an abusive alcoholic, and both Desmond and his brother Hal would get in frequent fights as young boys. However, one fight got out of hand, resulting in Desmond nearly killing his brother by striking him in the face with a brick. This moment was a turning point in Desmond’s life, as he observed a portrait of the Ten Commandments in his family home. The Sixth Commandment spoke greatly to him: “Thou shalt not kill.” With a tear-streaked face, Desmond turns to his mom and says “I could have killed him.”

Years pass by, and Desmond meets the love of his life, Dorothy (Teresa Palmer) at a hospital. But before they marry, Desmond enlists in the military and begins his journey as an army medic. However, little does he realize that his faith and convictions may conflict with the rules of the military. Everything begins to go downhill for Desmond when he arrives at camp. He refuses to touch any form of weapon and will not partake in any act of violence, since it goes against his beliefs. His commanders want him kicked out, but Desmond wants to stay, because he believes this is what he was called to do: to serve his country. Desmond even tells his father, “While everyone else is taking life, I’m going to be saving it. And that’s how I’m going to serve.” Through pain, trial, and suffering, Desmond faces grave humiliation and even potential imprisonment. But little does he know that this is just one small part of his journey and only God knows what lies ahead for him and every other soldier out on the battlefield in the midst of Hacksaw Ridge.

“Hacksaw Ridge” is a compelling, mind-blowing, and even tear jerking war film from acclaimed director Mel Gibson (“Braveheart,” “The Passion of the Christ,” and “Apocalypto”). The script is very well written and contained few flaws, in my opinion. Brief moments of dialog feel a little weak and more development on Doss becoming a medic would have been interesting. Still, the film is excellently paced, filled with strong performances, and some characters provide very brief and light comedic relief. Gibson proves to be a very strong filmmaker and does an excellent job of developing his characters. All around, the performances are near flawless, and the cinematography and sound design are wonderfully executed. “Hacksaw Ridge” will most likely go down as Mel Gibson’s best film and one of the best war films since “Saving Private Ryan.”.

The sexual content is kept to a minimum. Both married and unmarried couples kiss on several occasions, a soldier reads a pin-up magazine (nothing explicit is shown), and a drill sergeant tells soldiers that their guns should be their “lovers, mistresses, and concubines.” One soldier says he never knew his father, but that it was most likely one of ten guys. After getting married, a brief and tender scene takes place in Desmond and Dorothy’s bedroom. Desmond is shirtless, and Dorothy wears a very modest nightgown. The couple passionately kiss, and Dorothy tells him, “You better come home to me.” The scene cuts away as they fall out of frame. One soldier is labeled as an exhibitionist, and we see him naked from behind as he does chin-ups in his tent. Soldiers crack jokes about his anatomy, and, after roll is called, a drill sergeant forces the same man to run through a training course naked, as he has no time to get dressed. His privates are obscured, but we do catch a few more glimpses of his bare rear. One crude reference is made about female anatomy.

For a war film, the language is relatively mild, as we hear around a half-dozen uses each of s- and a-words and multiple uses of h*ll. A small handful of additional mild obscenities include d*mn, sc**w, p*ss, and b**ch. The phrases “Good Lord” and “For God’s sake” both pop up once each. However, it’s hard to discern if they are being used as profanities or not. The Japanese are referred to as “japs” and “nips” on a number of occasions, and women are sometimes called “dames” and “broads.” One character calls another a “chowder head.”

War is hell. And Mel Gibson gives us a harrowing depiction of war, as we see mounds of grisly, bloody images. Soldiers are riddled with bullets from head to toe, as blood spurts from their bodies. Numbers of soldiers lose various limbs and body parts on impact, and others explode into thin air as they are hit with grenades. Some are stabbed and impaled by the enemy or bludgeoned. One American soldier is killed execution style. We only hear what happens, though. One soldier picks up the top half of a dead soldier and uses it as a shield from enemy gunfire. Another uses a body to shield himself from a grenade, just before it explodes. Two men explode together, as they fight hand to hand while one of them holds a live grenade.

There is plenty of hand to hand combat, as soldiers punch, stab, and strangle each other. Many men burn to death as flamethrowers spew fire across the battlefield. Soldiers lose flesh, pieces at a time, and even intestines and organs spill out as many cry out in agony. The amount of bloody carnage (entrails and all) is mind-boggling, but no doubt an accurate depiction of the horrors of war. There are countless images of dead and wounded soldiers. Rats and insects feed on the flesh of rotting corpses, and many bodies are shown in gruesome detail. A Japanese soldier is seen dead, hanging. Another performs a form of ritual suicide where he stabs himself in the gut and let’s another behead him. Numbers of soldiers are injected with morphine needles.

Some violence takes place off the battlefield, too. While still at camp, one soldier kicks Desmond in the face when running through a training course and punches him one other time. Another scene involves Desmond being pulled out of bed in the middle of the night and getting beaten by a few of his comrades. A story is shared of how a soldier was shot through the back and how messy the wound was. When placed in a military cell, a frustrated Desmond beats the cell wall violently and flips his bed frame. As mentioned above, Desmond’s father was an abusive alcoholic. We hear sounds of abuse on two occasions as Desmond’s father, Tom, screams and yells in a drunken rampage at the boy’s mother, Bertha. ***SPOILER*** One scene involves Desmond coming to the rescue when Tom has a gun in hand. Desmond takes control of the gun and Tom begs him to shoot him to put him out of his misery. Of course, Desmond doesn’t listen. ***END SPOILER***

The two young Doss boys get into some scuffles, and, as I mentioned above, one scene involves hitting his brother in the face with a brick. We see bruising and some blood. One additional scene features a very bloody leg wound when we see a young man laying on the ground in agony after a truck falls on him. Desmond ends up saving the man’s life. A man cuts his hand after smashing a glass bottle, and we see a fair amount of blood. We see a man getting stuck with needle when donating blood.

Alcohol content is limited to Tom Doss’s character, as he struggles with alcoholism and takes a few swigs of strong liquor. A few soldiers smoke cigarettes and in one scene we see a soldier vomit.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” —Ephesians 6:10 (ESV)

“Hacksaw Ridge” is filled with strong Christian themes, as Desmond firmly stands behind his beliefs and convictions. Although the Gospel message is not clearly conveyed, Desmond is still a man who is not ashamed of his faith and always looks towards God for guidance and direction. Director Mel Gibson gives us an excellent portrayal of a God-fearing man and how he lives out his faith. The film shares that faith isn’t easy and that it is also a journey. Christians will be mocked, ridiculed, and even feel abandoned at times. But if we have a God who is for us, who can stand against us?

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” —Romans 8:31

“Hacksaw Ridge” reveals how a man’s faith and courage saved over 70 lives, and how it impacted hundreds (and eventually thousands) of lives. As the film’s story develops, we begin to witness a gradual change in many of the characters, as they turn from harsh and bitter, to respectful and even somewhat kind towards Desmond. Desmond was always viewed as “different” by the other men, but they slowly learned that this type of “different” is a beautiful thing. They saw a light shining through him, as he respected his God by not partaking in any acts of violence. They saw a man who wanted to save life, not take it. They saw a man who loved others no matter how much he may was mistreated. But most of all, they saw a man who forgave others and loved the Lord with all of his heart. Before the men headed into another battle, they respectfully waited for Desmond as he prayed for them all. Although Desmond went to “work” on the Sabbath, he still didn’t let the war get between him and his relationship with God. We see him reading his Bible and praying on countless occasions.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” —2 Corinthians 5:7

Although “Hacksaw Ridge” contains many powerful faith-based themes and shares the story of a man who lived out his Christian faith, I cannot recommend this film to family audiences, due to its graphic war violence and moments of vulgar language. This film certainly isn’t for the faint of heart, as the body count is ridiculously high, and the bloodshed is near constant in the second half of the film. However, for those who are fans of war films and can tolerate such strong violence, I do give this film a recommendation, since it has such a powerful Christian message. I am certain that a good number of Christian audiences would appreciate the hard work and effort put into this film and the wonderful Christian themes it shares.

“Hacksaw Ridge” is masterfully crafted, and the violence itself I found to be quite necessary to accurately depict the horrors of war. It may be intense, prolonged, and realistically graphic, but it isn’t mindless like most other “R” rated action or slasher films. Like “Saving Private Ryan,” I believe “Hacksaw Ridge” is a necessary film for some to see. But please use very strong discretion before viewing this film. Not only does “Hacksaw Ridge” deliver a harrowing depiction of war and tell a beautiful story of heroism, but it shares how a Christian served his country and his God during one of the bloodiest battles in history. Most importantly, though, it shares how he lived out his faith without ever firing a single bullet. “Hacksaw Ridge” may very well be one of the most violent films released this year, but it is also one of the most essential. It shares that, although we may live in a corrupt and violent world, there are still plenty of good people in it, and there is a God who will never leave us or forsake us. Just like God called Desmond onto the battlefield to save lives, He is calling us to serve Him to do what we may think is the impossible. But the big question is: Are you ready to answer His calling? Are you ready to take that leap of faith?

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” —Deuteronomy 31:6

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Moderate—“Swear to G*d” (1), “For G*d's sakes” (1), “Good L*rd” (1), “Jesus Christ” (1), “hell” (15+), “damn” (4) / Sex/Nudity: Moderate to Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive
Positive—This is the best Christian movie I’ve ever seen (and I’m 40). I just had a conversation with my son, who is a bit hesitant to express his Christianity, and right next day (today) I saw the trailer of this movie. There couldn’t be a better way to show that you shouldn’t be ashamed to stand by your Christian convictions, than the actions of the main character. I took my son (he’s almost 18), and my neighbor friend to see the movie at the opening night, and we all agreed that the movie is excellent on all levels. The movie, being produced by Hollywood, but so Christian in its essence, is most definitely will be a splinter to many “minorities” who are fueled by atheism. But even they venerate the movie for its cinematography, plot (based on true story by the way), and emotional rollercoaster.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Vladislav Valentinov, age 39 (USA)
Positive—“Hacksaw Ridge” is a rare big-budget Hollywood film whose main character presents the life of a Christian from a realistic and positive viewpoint, without being “preachy.” This display of a Christian’s life is even more powerful because the major elements of the movie are based on a true story. The first half of the film shows the development of the Christian’s character, and then the 2nd half of the film shows him living out his faith in the midst of shockingly intense war scenes.

The film is rated R due to the intensity of the blood and gore in the war scenes, but such scenes do not serve as gratuitous violence, but rather set the context for the trial and testing of the Christian character’s faith. In the brief scene showing the main character in the marital bed on his wedding night, the scene has a close-up of the wedding ring as if to emphasize the covenant aspect of marriage. There are also a few scenes of symbolic spiritual intensity reminiscent of baptism and resurrection. This film in some ways is like a “Pilgrim’s Progress” for our time.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Alan, age 57 (Israel)
Positive—I do not agree with the rating that this “sex-nudity” category is “heavy”. There is one soldier who you see from the back, and side (from a distance). I did not find that objectionable, actually it was hilarious, not dirty. At it’s premier at the Venice Film Festival, this movie got a ten-minute standing ovation. It is not preachy, but does not hide the overall religious theme, even non-church goers won’t roll their eyes here. This movie has a sweet love story, bravery, self-sacrifice, conviction, ——it is inspiring. My husband and I were riveted to the screen. As we walked out, we gathered with a group of strangers and actually discussed the movie. We were all impressed. My only caution is that you must be prepared ——there are long sequences of realistic graphic combat carnage. I never looked away, but shook my head and thought “how can we humans do this to each other…” Yet, there is courage and inspiration here as well. My husband and I would be considered prudes, and we loved this film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Maggie, age 69 (USA)
Positive—Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” One of my favorite verses of the Bible brought to life in this awesome movie. Desmond Doss endured pain, embarrassment, and even the threat of imprisonment; however, his faith brought him through it all. We can see God working through others including Desmond’s father to ensure God’s will prevails. During the horrific battles, Desmond is able to help others even under heavy gun and mortar fire. His courage was truly amazing. BUT his heroics during the battle did not compare to his feats that were accomplished after the battle throughout the night. All throughout the night, Desmond asks God repeatedly to help him save “one more”. Battling, not only the Japanese soldiers, but his own fatigue as well as pain from rope burns on his hands, Desmond lowers men to safety for medical care under the cover of darkness.

His love for mankind is clearly shown by him not only saving his fellow soldiers, but helping wounded enemy soldiers as well. It is this love that reaches our enemies and helps bring people out of the darkness of hate.

I strongly recommend this movie to all audiences with the exception of children. Teens may be old enough to handle the graphic nature of the movie, but every parent should make that decision with caution.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Troy Mendez, age 41 (USA)
Positive—This is the best movie of the past 10 years. The audience actually clapped at the end. That’s something I haven’t seen in my entire life. IMHO, the main review by the contributor does not do the film justice. I would not bring a young child to see this, but anyone past the age of 13 would be fine. This is the most Christian movie I've seen at a theater. The hero is a true christian hero who sticks to his values despite severe persecution. Also, its a TRUE story. Don't miss this movie. I took my wife and daughter. They protested that they did not want to see a war movie. After the movie, they both said they loved the movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jerry, age 60 (USA)
Positive—Inspiring and poignant simultaneously. Inspiring due to Desmond Doss’s Christian character and witness, poignant because we see this through war (absolutely earned its R-rating). The inspiration is all the more magnified due to the lens of war. Andrew Garfield’s performance reminded me of Ian Charleson’s in “Chariots of Fire,” in that each seemed to be the model of true Christianity, if only for a few hours. Gentle, yet strong; challenged, in Doss’s case, violently, yet steadfast; weak, yet strong; humble, yet mighty.

I can’t remember a more powerful movie, in my opinion, in a decade. One of the most powerful I’ve seen… because it’s based on a true story. Garfield, hopefully, will be considered at award’s time, as should Hugo Weaving, who portrayed his father. Everyone was very good. Good to see Vince Vaughn in something of substance, even. Thank you to Mel Gibson, and everyone who had a hand in bringing this story to us.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jeffrey, age 50 (USA)
Positive—"For those who exalt themselves shall be humbled, and those who humble themselves shall be exalted” Matthew 23:12. Never has the ideal of Christian humility been more beautifully or convincingly depicted on the screen than it is by Andrew Garfield in his compelling portrayal of Desmond Doss. He endures unimaginable trials with grace, love, and maturity. Teresa Palmer in the role of his fiancée and wife is very moving, and their love story is a perfect, heart-warming depiction of God’s picture of marital love. Vince Vaughn is drop-dead hilarious as the gruff yet endearing platoon sergeant! The casting, the acting, the script, the effects—everything about this movie is perfect. Bravo, Mel Gibson, and thank you for selecting this story to tell.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Terry Miller, age 65 (USA)
Positive—“Thou shalt not slay.” The sixth commandment in the Holy Bible resonates through Hacksaw Ridge. Based on the true story of Desmond Thomas Doss, the only soldier in World War II who never fired a gun, yet saved around five-and-seventy lives, the film is a brutal, yet thought-provoking drama. The directing is of course, top-notch, as one would expect from Academy Award winner Mel Gibson (“Braveheart, ” “The Passion of the Christ”), and the acting is solid. One well known actor has a major supporting role in the film, and his first scene is gut-bustingly funny. I won’t say who it is, so the surprise will remain for you who have yet to see it.

Scripture is quoted more than once in the film, and never in a derogatory or condescending way. God is treated with the reverence He is due, and that is commendable. Biblically speaking, there is plenty of graphic violence (this IS a war picture after all), but it is there to show the horrors of what Doss (a calm and understated performance by Andrew Garfield, also known for “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”) went through.

The language is not as rough as one would expect of a film like this, but it is there. (Reportedly, Mel Gibson edited out the stronger language to appeal to a faith-based audience, and it was a wise decision on his part). There is brief male rear nudity, but it is done for comic effect. Sensuality is limited to a brief, yet tender, scene that cuts away just as the characters fall out of frame. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—D, age 30 (USA)
Positive—what a great powerful movie. I saw it and was truly inspired and convicted. This movie was one I hadn’t Evan known about it and so glad I took the time to see. I got to rate this movie as one of the best war movies off all time. The actor deserves an Academy Award, in my opinion. So what was I convicted about? How to truly live what we believe. To live it in a surrounding that may say you can’t live that way. But you can with God’s help.

What was I inspired about? I feel we live in a war zone. Many have been hurt in their personal battles. Are we willing to help them. JUST ONE MORE. Then JUST ONE MORE. Then JUST ONE MORE I believe this movie inspired to reach out to the hurt and wounded in this world. Okay, it’s a war movie, but, for me, it’s a movie to be convicted and inspired with. JUST ONE MORE
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Rockinron Corino, age 53 (USA)
Positive—This was a beautifully done movie. It was really enjoyable and empowering to see that a soldier who risked his life by saving lives without firing a single bullet. Mel Gibson did a great job in directing this film. The cinematography was well done and exceeded my expectations. Andrew Garfield’s portrayal of Desmond Doss was top notch, and Vince Vaughn provided excellent comedic relief as a drill sergeant. I was blessed to see that Doss took the time to keep his relationship with God by praying numerous times throughout the film. A must see!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Chris, age 24 (USA)

Sorry, no other viewer comments received yet. If you have seen this movie, PLEASE share your observations and insights with others to be posted here. GO