Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action to pull the audience in from a variety of angles. The result is powerfully visceral, catching us by surprise as it scares, moves and inspires us. As a director, Mel Gibson is great at telling vivid stories that evoke intense feelings. And Andrew Garfield delivers another remarkably internalised performance that resonates strongly.
As World War II rages, Desmond (Garfield) longs to leave his rural Virginia home to help with the fighting against Germany and Japan. But as an Adventist, he refuses to touch a weapon or fight on Sunday. He enlists anyway, and is mercilessly bullied for his pacifistic beliefs all the way through boot camp. His commanding officers (Vince Vaughn and Sam Worthington) are especially hard on him, trying to force him to drop out. But his haggard WWI-veteran father (Hugo Weaving) makes a pointed plea for him to remain in the military. Eventually, his platoon is sent to fight on Hacksaw Ridge in Okinawa, where Desmond proves his bravery in ways no one expects.
This is one of those stories that we wouldn't believe if it weren't true (the film concludes with a documentary epilogue featuring interviews with the actual people). Gibson and his screenwriters continually ground scenes in tiny details that emphasise the realism, giving the actors plenty of gristle. The opening sequence on the farm is relentlessly corny Americana, with Garfield portraying a dorky bumpkin who falls for a sweet girl (Teresa Palmer) and heads naively off to war. But Garfield deepens the character with every scene, giving weight and meaning to the jaw-dropping climactic battlefield sequence. Among the supporting cast, Vaughn, Worthington and Weaving all get strong moments of their own, as do a few of Desmond's comrades. Although while Palmer and Griffiths (as Desmond's mother) are solid, there isn't much for them to do.
Continue reading: Hacksaw Ridge Review
Nick Twisp (Cera) is a 16-year-old who feels out of sync with the world. He has a summer job in a caravan park, where he instantly falls in love with Sheeni (Doubleday), the fiercely protected daughter of religious nutcases (Walsh and Place). Sheeni is like a female version of him, only sexy and smarter, and he creates an imaginary alter ego named Francois Dillinger to give him the confidence to seduce her. But of course things go wrong from the start.
Continue reading: Youth In Revolt Review
Kicked out of his latest boarding school for entrepreneurial ingenuity (he made fake IDs), Charlie Bartlett (Anton Yelchin) finally makes his way to public school. His mother (Hope Davis), medicated into oblivion, thinks it will be a perfect outlet for his creativity. As if it weren't written on the wall, Bartlett can only find friends on the short bus and other clique-less annals of the teenage population. That is until he finds the blessings of prescription narcotics and the passivity of modern adults towards their children's problems.
Continue reading: Charlie Bartlett Review
There's no denying that Griffin has an easy confidence and a practiced style on stage. It's just that his material and delivery aren't superior enough to entice comedy fans to put their butts in movie theater seats. Even when Griffin's content is witty and thought provoking -- like his view of a short "racism-free" period after September 11 -- his windup and pitch just don't get you laughing out loud.
Continue reading: Dysfunktional Family Review
Orlando Jones does a better job in those 7-Up commercials than in the role of Darryl Chase, an uptight investment banker set up by a combination of the CIA, the FBI, a Mexican drug cartel, the Federales, and an emu farmer as part of a double murder/embezzlement scheme. Running from the law, Chase changes clothes and identity with Freddy Tiffany, a two-bit hustler named played by Eddie Griffin he encounters on the street. Together, the pair travel across the country to Mexico, where a certain CIA agent holds the key to Chase's freedom. And of course, during the journey, Darryl Chase rediscovers his roots as a black man while Freddy Tiffany shucks and jives his way through every situation like he's the bastard son of Eddie Murphy and Jerry Lewis.
Continue reading: Double Take Review
It's well known or, at least, widely surmised, that the teamster's local, the union that drives the wheels of production, is mob controlled. So when often-overlooked FBI agent Joe Devine (Alec Baldwin) suggests to his superiors that the way to take down local mobster Tommy Sanz (Tony Shalhoub) is to lure him into a sting operation based on the illusion of a new Hollywood production, he's given the Bureau's green light.
Continue reading: The Last Shot Review
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