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Thursday, January 12, 2017

HACKSHAW RIDGE


I don't know if Hollywood will ever accept Mel Gibson's attempt at image rehabilitation enough for AMPAS to include 'Hackshaw Ridge' in any nominations for next year's Oscars, but it will be interesting to see how it plays out...I had to suspend my own personal boycott of all things Mel to be able to see the film, but perhaps the presidential campaign has de-sensitized me to racially inflammatory comments enough that I can compartmentalize, and simply concentrate on his commendable directorial skills, while overlooking his obvious anti-semitism...

This is the true story of Pfc. Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), who won the Congressional Medal of Honor, despite refusing to bear arms during WWII on religious grounds...Doss was drafted and ostracized by fellow soldiers for his pacifist stance, but went on to earn respect and adoration for his bravery, selflessness and compassion after he risked his life (without ever firing a shot, mind you) to save 75 men in the Battle of Okinawa...

I really don't enjoy watching graphic violence, but this is a war pic, so the non-stop bloodiness is germane and not gratuitous, and Gibson is definitely skilled in this genre...somehow he always manages to pull back just enough to keep unflinchingly gory scenes from being pornographic...

The big news here, though, is about the excellent actor, Andrew Garfield, who gives one of the most believable and compelling performances in this vehicle that I've ever seen...he should definitely get an Oscar nod (assuming Hollywood can be politically incorrect enough to acknowledge the film), but my instincts are that the industry is going to try to give Will Smith his long-overdue statue next year...

I also liked seeing Vince Vaughn in a serious role like this...I think he has real acting chops...

I don't want to overthink it, but this movie seems to be Mel Gibson's plea for personal redemption, in that it's the story of a man who was true to his religious convictions, regardless of being misunderstood for them...I think Gibson's self-perception is that he's not racist, just strongly convicted...

If your conscience permits, and you like a well-told, true war story, you might enjoy...