Viewed – 30 May 2017 online-rental
It would be easy to be a little bit cynical about ‘another war movie’ after how many we’ve had over the years, and comparisons with some of the greats are inevitable. However this based on a true story drama at least has an interesting perspective of one such time in the second world war. Andrew Garfield plays Desmond Doss, a pacifist war objector and medic who refuses to carry a weapon despite being part the battle of Okinawa … and becomes a hero when he saves the lives of more than 70 soldiers during a brutal siege against the Japanese.
Director Mel Gibson’s movie for me began familiar…Desmond leaves his sweetheart to join the army, his drunk father is against him signing up, and we also get a shouty drill instructor played by Vince Vaughn doing his best R Lee Ermy impression. So initially I was thinking this was just going to be a re-tread of say Full Metal Jacket or Saving Private Ryan. Thankfully though with the focus on Desmond this became more than simple war movie cliché and actually an enthralling story of one man’s fight to stand by his beliefs whilst still managing to make a difference. The war scenes that come fairly late on are unashamedly brutal yet visceral showing that Gibson has lost none of his flair for gruesome battles that he showcased so well in Braveheart. Also add to this that the movie has some interesting, humbling character arcs, such as certain characters starting out unlikeable and then becoming someone I cared about etc. Also I was glad to see that the otherwise ruthless Japanese army were not painted entirely one dimensional, with a few welcome moments showing soldiers scared or not entirely wanting to be a part of what they were involved in. It made for a well rounded and well written account of a what must have been a horrific time in history.
I was left a little puzzled by where Desmond’s elder brother disappeared to considering he signed up to join the army before Desmond but then the movie forgot about him. Just an observation. However, Garfield not exactly an actor I’ve ever warmed to, who was miscast in Spiderman is thankfully a revelation here, convincing and probably a career best from him … helped by several solid supporting turns.
Simply put – a must see.
Verdict: 5 /5