Strongly centered in a biblical worldview
|Overall Faith and/or Biblical Relevance|
|Faith-compatible Depiction of Characters and Character Relationships|
|Faith-compatible Depiction of Situations|
|Family Viewing Suitability|
|view our criteria|
In one of the most powerful and riveting films of the year, HACKSAW RIDGE tells the incredible true story of faith-driven American World War II hero and Medal of Honor recipient Desmond T. Doss, who refused to carry a gun as a conscientious objector—yet single-handedly rescued 75 fellow soldiers under constant enemy fire as an Army medic during the Battle of Okinawa. A man of principle who followed God’s call for him to save lives over taking them, Doss’ life is a testament to the biblical theme of perseverance in the face of extreme adversity—culminating in his willingness to sacrifice everything to fulfill his mission.
Distributed by Summit Entertainment and Lionsgate, HACKSAW RIDGE is brilliantly directed by Mel Gibson (THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, BRAVEHEART, APOCALYPTO) and features an excellent screenplay by Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan. The cast is stellar, with Andrew Garfield (THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN) delivering a spectacular performance as Doss. Other fine performances include Teresa Palmer as Dorothy; Vince Vaughn (WEDDING CRASHERS, THE INTERNSHIP) as Sergeant Howell; Sam Worthington (EVEREST, AVATAR) as Captain Glover; Hugo Weaving (TRANSFORMERS, THE LORD OF THE RINGS) as Doss’ father, Tom; and Luke Bracey as Smitty.
Overall Faith and/or Biblical Relevance
Throughout HACKSAW RIDGE, Doss’ Christian faith convictions—and ultimately his religious liberty as an American—are front and center. In the opening scenes, the beautiful words of Isaiah 40: 29-31 set the stage for what is to come—those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. It is from this biblical foundation that HACKSAW RIDGE depicts the importance of God’s Word in Doss’ life—including the commandment to not kill. And it is in this context that viewers understand why the Bible is so important to Doss that it never leaves his side—even in the heat of battle.
Given the increasing threat to religious liberty that biblically orthodox Christians face in America today, Desmond Doss’ courageous and resolute stand for his faith in the face of severe persecution in order to carry out what he feels is God’s call on his life is awe-inspiring and highly relevant. And while America was more accepting of Christian faith in Doss’ generation, he still must make tough choices to stay true to who he is as a Christian in a culture that attacks and devalues his worldview—an important lesson for today.
Faith-compatible Depiction of Characters and Character Relationships
Throughout HACKSAW RIDGE, there is a very faith-compatible depiction of key characters and their relationships. The carefree and playful childhood of brothers Desmond and Hal Doss in rural Virginia is soon jolted when Desmond nearly kills Hal in a rollicking wrestling match that gets out of hand. Although respectful of their parents, who are committed to raising their sons according to their Seventh Day Adventist faith, both boys ultimately develop a love/hate relationship with their abusive and alcoholic father, Tom—a cynical and emotionally scarred veteran of World War I who does not support his sons’ desires to enlist in World War II. After nearly killing his gun-toting father while defending his mother during a round of domestic violence, Desmond promises God he will never again touch a gun—cementing his eventual faith-driven conviction as a conscientious objector and conscientious collaborator in the war effort.
Meanwhile, Doss meets Dorothy after a visit to the local hospital where she is a nurse. He is smitten with her beauty and pursues her in an entertaining courtship that eventually leads to a loving and mutually respect-based marriage. The on-screen chemistry between Desmond and Dorothy is powerful, and Dorothy stands by her husband in the face of a harrowing court-martial proceeding. Here, Tom Doss’ love for his son comes full circle and results in the preservation of Desmond’s constitutional right to serve as a conscientious objector without having to carry a gun.
Beyond these familial relationships, HACKSAW RIDGE depicts faith-compatible relationships between Doss and his Army commanders and fellow soldiers. Here, Doss’ consistent and unwavering commitment to walk his talk proves to be a powerful Christian witness to many—particularly when his bravery as an unarmed medic in the midst of battle single-handedly saves 75 men.
Faith-compatible Depiction of Situations
As would be expected in a film focusing on one of the key battles of World War II, HACKSAW RIDGE depicts a number of scenes that may make some uncomfortable, but are nevertheless realistic and show that we live in a fallen world. There are several scenes involving hazing, name calling, crude jokes and sexual innuendo in an all-male military setting that—although considered politically incorrect by today’s standards—would have been normal for that era. And there is brief, but repeated, male nudity set in a very humorous context that might offend some but is otherwise appropriate and not gratuitous.
More seriously, the numerous scenes showing Doss being ridiculed, humiliated and bullied by both his superiors and fellow soldiers for refusing to carry a gun advances the story line of religious persecution in the face of a world that demands conformity to its standards. Although subjected to extensive efforts to drum him out of the military—including psychiatric examinations, imprisonment and a court-martial proceeding—Doss perseveres with a Christ-like focus to carry out his mission to serve and save lives as a medic.
It is here on the battle field of Hacksaw Ridge on Okinawa that Doss’s training in perseverance in the face of impossible odds is put to the ultimate test. In scene after scene—and after having been abandoned by his unit—Doss one-by-one rescues not only fellow soldiers and commanders that had persecuted him, but several enemy troops as well. Along the way, Doss’ self-sacrificial, single-minded focus on saving “one more” results in a hospital full of men that Doss saved—and several wonderful and redemptive conversations with fellow soldiers who ask for Doss’ forgiveness.
Family Viewing Suitability
At 131 minutes in length, HACKSAW RIDGE is rated R for intense, prolonged graphic sequences of war violence—including grisly bloody images. And while the hell of war is depicted in a very realistic way—and therefore likely not suitable for the whole family—under Gibson’s careful and very thoughtful direction, HACKSAW RIDGE offers an intense, riveting and gritty presentation of the physical horror of war that mirrors the spiritual battle all humans face living in a fallen world.
HACKSAW RIDGE is an inspiring, emotionally engaging, well-done film with outstanding acting, writing and direction. It offers a remarkable and gripping tale of true, Christ-like heroism and unimaginable courage under the most difficult circumstances that should appeal to a wide audience beyond faith-driven moviegoers. Without firing a bullet, Doss’ unwavering faith-driven witness to his convictions powerfully points to not only who he was at his core as a Christian, but more importantly to the biblical example of how Jesus rescues His sheep—one-by-one—caught in the cliff-side thickets of the battlefield of life.