Hacksaw Ridge, directed by Mel Gibson and written by Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan, follows the life of Desmond Doss during World War II as his faith is put to the test after he enlists in the Army.
The film stars Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths and Vince Vaughn.
***WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW***
Desmond’s belief in the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” is reinforced after an accident where he almost kills his younger brother Hal. Years later, Desmond saves a man injured in a car accident by taking him to the hospital. It is in that moment that he realizes he wants to help save people through medicine. At the same time, he falls in love with a nurse he meets at the hospital named Dorothy Schutte.
After the outbreak of World War II, Desmond decides to enlist in the Army, which his father and Dorothy disapprove of. Before leaving Fort Jackson, South Carolina, Desmond asks for Dorothy’s hand in marriage and she accepts.
Being a conscientious objector, Desmond believed that he would be able to serve as a combat medic. Although he excels physically in training, Desmond becomes an outcast among his fellow soldiers refusing to touch a firearm and train on Saturdays. Sergeant Howell and Captain Glover try to discharge Desmond for psychiatric reasons but fail. They then resort to put him through grueling labor. Seeing how stubborn he is, some of his fellow soldiers beat him up one night, but Desmond refuses to identify his attackers and continues training.
Desmond intended to finish his basic training and get released to leave, during which he would marry Dorothy, but his refusal to touch a firearm gets him arrested for insubordination. Dorothy visits him in jail and tries to convince him to plead guilty so he can be released without charge, but Desmond refuses to compromise his beliefs. Before he is sentenced, his father barges into the tribunal and hands over a letter by a former commanding officer stating that his son’s pacifism is protected by an Act of Congress. Desmond’s charges are dropped and he marries Dorothy.
Desmond is assigned to the 77th Infantry Division. During the Battle of Okinawa, his unit is informed that they are to relieve the 96th Infantry Division, which was tasked with ascending and securing Maeda Escarpment, “Hacksaw Ridge.” Both sides suffer heavy losses in the first wave, although Desmond is able to successfully save several soldiers. When both sides are retired for the night, Desmond confesses to Smitty, a squad mate who was the first to call him a coward, that he his belief of not holding firearms stems from an incident where he nearly shoot his drunken father, who had threatened his mother with a gun. The next morning, the Japanese launch a massive counterattack that drive the American forces off the escarpment. Desmond hears the cries of dying soldiers and decides to run back and help as many as he can. He carries the wounded soldiers to the cliff’s edge and rappel’s them down by rope. Every time he is successful he turns back to the carnage and prays to be able to save one more. When Desmond is trying to save Sergeant Howell, they get spotted by Japanese soldiers. After a dramatic escape, both soldiers make it out of the escarpment alive.
Captain Glover tells Desmond that the men have been inspired by his miraculous efforts and that they will not launch the next attack without him. Despite the next day being Desmond’s Sabbath day, he joins in fellow soldiers after reciting his prayers. During an ambush where Japanese soldiers were feigning surrender, Desmond manages to save Glover and others by knocking an enemy grenade away. He gets injured by the blast of the grenade, but they win the battle.
After rescuing over 75 soldiers at Hacksaw Ridge, Desmond Doss is awarded the Medal of Honor by President Truman.
Hacksaw Ridge is more than just a war movie, it is a movie of faith. It has action, drama, and romance, but above all, it has heart.