Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge” was a surprise addition to this year’s Venice Film Festival, instantly provoking curiosity as to how his first directorial effort since 2006’s “Apocalypto” would be received amid so many other autumnal prestige pictures. The answer, at least so far, is pretty well — early reviews from Venice tend toward the favorable.
Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman draws attention to Gibson’s battle scenes:
“It immerses you in the violent madness of war — and, at the same time, it roots its drama in the impeccable valor of a man who, by his own grace, refuses to have anything to do with war.”
Alonso Duralde of TheWrap is similarly positive, crediting Gibson’s controlled chaos — while also pointing out a certain irony:
“Gibson has created some of the most breathtakingly exciting wartime footage in recent memory. They craft a real architecture to this hellish landscape; no matter how chaotic the proceedings, we always know where everyone is in relation to everyone else, and pauses get inserted into the action lest it all become too much to take. (But remember folks, this is a movie about pacifism.)”
The Guardian‘s Andrew Pulver knows that some might resist the very idea of a new movie by the controversial filmmaker and actor, but gives the film four stars out of five:
“As repellent a figure as many may still find Gibson, “I have to report he’s absolutely hit ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ out of the park.”
Jessica Kiang is less impressed, giving the film a C and criticizing the director’s approach in her Playlist review:
“This tale of real-life heroism seems less a celebration of humanist convictions than a glorification of religious intransigence and a declaration of the moral superiority of the faithful over the faithless.”
Andrew Garfield stars in the WWII drama as Desmond Doss, an army medic and conscientious objector who refused to carry a weapon. “Hacksaw Ridge” opens on November 4.