I feel dirty. After the final scene in “Hackshaw Ridge,” I saw on screen the dreaded four words I thought I would never see; “Directed By Mel Gibson.” You see, I pride myself as never having seen any of his movies – no Braveheart, not even What Women Want. I despise him – he is misogynistic, homophobic, an anti-semite. Had I known that he directed this movie, I would have stayed away from it. But Andrew Garfield lured me – he is one of my favorite young actors working today, and wanted to see how he would tackle his role here.
And it’s a great role – the story of Desmond T. Doss, the conscientious objector who was awarded war medals. His achievement stems from the fact that he got these medals by not even touching a gun while in combat. He worked mainly as the troop medic, and saved seventy five lives while at Hacksaw Ridge, in Okinawa, Japan. he did it because of his religious beliefs – he is a Seventh-Day Adventist. It’s a remarkable story, and I was deeply touched by it. Garfield is fantastic, and perfect for the role – his sinewy build highlights Doss’s achievements, and he plays it with august tenderness. His performance forms the heart of this piece.
But the violence here was too much for me. I spent a big part looking away from the scene during the battle scenes, which was relentless. Yes, war is horror, for sure, but most times, I felt it was way too much blood and gore for my taste. And the heavy-handed religious slant, I was going to say, was a turn off, but now that I realize that Gibson directed this, I want to say, how am I not surprised.
Do I regret seeing this? Yes I do, because it kills me that I supported one of the biggest bigots in Hollywood. (Can I just say I did it for Andrew?) But it happened, and now I just need to do penance – maybe donate money to Planned Parenthood, or something else that Gibson despises.