Hacksaw Ridge | Review & Win Tix

Thanks to a work friend of mine I managed to score a ticket to walk the red carpet and attend the Australian premiere of HACKSAW RIDGE. The bonus of this was I would also get to attend the premiere with Mel Gibson, Hugo Weaving, Sam Neill, Teresa Palmer, Rachel Griffiths, Luke Bracey and a swag of talent in this epic casted film. It was a sublime evening in the iconic State Theatre and our seats were about six rows from the front. Speeches from Neill and Gibson will remain a highlight of my movie critic career. The only thing missing that would have made this movie perfect was if the star of the movie, a huge crush of mine, Andrew Garfield, had attended. Oddly in none of the speeches was Garfield even mentioned. Regardless of his absence – bravo on a superb evening where I even donned a suit.

You can wear a suit to your screening also if you so choose, it is releasing in Australian cinemas on November 3rd. It is rated MA15+ and runs for 131mins.


Hacksaw Ridge Andrew Garfield image




HACKSAW RIDGE is the Hollywood version of the true story of Desmond Doss. WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa (at Hacksaw Ridge), refused to kill people and became the first Conscientious Objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

After a brutal battle with the Japanese most of the men lay injured, dying or dead, those who could, fled for their lives back into retreat. Doss remained throughout the night rescuing each man he could find, at major risk to his life. Each one he found he had to lower down a cliff-face to awaiting men who took the injured off to a hospital without even knowing who was sending the men down. When asked how many lives he saved, he approximated 50. However individuals that witnessed the heroic event said it was closer to 100. The mutual agreement was reached at approximately 75.


Hacksaw Ridge Luke Bracey, Nico Cortez and Andrew Garfield image



The man is a living legend to me. To merely be in his presence I was on the edge of losing my shit Rigg’s style. We share a similar beard and a few of my friends have started calling me Mel since my photos of the premiere went online. As you can imagine I love this. Regardless of his personal life, personal demons and views on religion his movies are always exceptional. His acting is as good as his directing and this year sees the full return of Gibson to form with his acting in BLOOD FATHER proceeding HACKSAW RIDGE by mere months.

Gibson’s direction is near flawless, being an actor himself he is an actor’s director and manages to get the most out of them. Viewing Gibson on stage with the cast you can see they all respected, loved him even. His ability to give even small characters an emotional depth is powerful and has been in his films since day dot. He was approached over a twelve year span to direct HACKSAW RIDGE and turned it down several times until one day he said yes and turned out what you can now see.

And one thing Gibson does nearly better than anyone else on film…………violence. Realistic, blood curdling, heart wrenching, brutality. BRAVEHEART, THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, APOCALYPTO – all of these movies have scenes that make your breath hold. Scenes that take the evil of man to new heights. And then he tops them with the war scenes in HACKSAW RIDGE.


Hacksaw Ridge Teresa Palmer and Andrew Garfield image



The cast is huge, the cast is epic, the cast is phenomenal. Not one person lets the movie down. The weird part about the casting. It is about an American war hero and the movie stars one American, one Englishman and the rest is entirely Australian. And this American character movie that is mostly set in America and Japan is shot entirely in NSW, Australia.

I see three Oscar nominations for HACKSAW RIDGE. One will definitely go to Andrew Garfield for his performance as Desmond Doss (sadly he won’t win), another will go to both Hugo Weaving as Doss’s father. Weaving’s performance is smaller than the rest of the cast but it is easily the most powerful. And, as usual, Weaving marvels the audience with ease. The other is a given, unless Hollywood’s elite will hate him until the end of time, Gibson deserves an Oscar nomination for his direction.

Another two performances stole nearly every scene. Firstly, that of Vincent Vaughn as Sergeant Howell. Dry humour, a signature of Vaughn’s, and an incredible presence lit up the screen. Another was one I did not expect. Luke Bracey as Smitty. The hero, the younger version of Mel Gibson, and while not the hero of the movie, Smitty was a hero and his story arc was the most satisfying. Bracey gave his best performance to date and easily made up for the forever painful POINT BREAK remake.

There are so many other actors in this movie and I truly loved all their work but there aren’t enough paragraphs available for this review to continue gushing.


Hacksaw Ridge Hugo Weaving image



HACKSAW RIDGE is the most brutal war movie on film. The end. The odd thing about this film that is misleading from the trailer, is that is takes nearly an hour to actually get to war. In no way does this detract from the story. Doss’s back story is import; his family life, and his poor treatment by the military make him the man he is.

There just aren’t many people with the laurels to defy all for their own beliefs. I would’ve told the military to go fuck themselves, I have a short fuse. But Doss refused to give up, and took many-a-beating to do what he thought was needed. It is here where you can see the eventual appeal that took Mel. It is a faith movie, a Christian movie. A movie that says if you give all for God, your path will be laid out for you and he will guide you. The Sixth Commandment – THOU SHALT NOT KILL – is heavily debated in the movie as to where the line is drawn. I am Catholic but non-practicing. I believe in science, like most logical people, but this commandment makes perfect sense. There is no fine print, it is self explanatory. Yet more people have been killed in war because of religion.


The start of HACKSAW RIDGE is a great build up, and just when you think, will we get to war, it does. And BAM!!!! Once it starts it never relents and there were scenes five minutes long where I had my hand over my mouth. I mumbled “oh fuck” a few times and Gibson designed these scenes to make you bloody uncomfortable. War isn’t pretty, it is fucking pointless, and it is horrific. Everyone I have spoken to about this has asked the same thing, is it more brutal than SAVING PRIVATE RYAN? The answer is yes.


Hacksaw Ridge Vince Vaughn and his men image



Basically the last ten to fifteen minutes let this movie down. It is in the trailer. The division won’t go to battle until Doss says a prayer, as it is the Sabbath. From the true hero we saw at work, doing greatness, we now see a religious figure for the troops. It devalued his greatness, lessened his humble nature. Yes these men were in awe of a man who did wonders but this went too far, it made him iconic and a little cheesy. And then it got worse, to a final scene in which it looks like Doss is raising into the light and become a saint, an angel even. Christian religious subtle agenda. Doss reached enlightenment for his saint-like miracle effort because he did God’s work.


Hacksaw Ridge War Action image



Regardless of the Christian undertone, in reality Desmond Doss did perform enough to be considered a Saint in my mind. HACKSAW RIDGE will see Mel back in the A-Game and it will be loved by many, deservedly so. It’s strong points are its cast, its direction and some epic war scenes. Well worth a viewing.


4 Pops



To win one of the ten doubles passes you need to either like and share/ retweet this post on Facebook/Twitter/ Google+/ Pinterest/ LinkedIn/ Flipboard or Instagram (all the links to follow us are on the top right of homepage). Further to this you then need to leave a comment below stating the answer/s to the following questions:

What is your favourite Mel Gibson movie and why?


If you do not have social media then you can still enter, leave your entry below in the comments and then email me at jking@saltypopcorn.com.au telling me you don’t have social media (you still need to enter on the website).

This is a game of skill and selected purely on the thoughts of the judges. 

The prizes will be drawn on or before October 29th. Good luck! Oh, and minor housekeeping – huge apologies for overseas readers, this  is only available to Australian residents.




 owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the Australian movie industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.


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