Hacksaw Ridge 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
“Lord, let me save just one more.”
After losing several American soldiers during the WWII battle on top of Hacksaw Ridge, retreat is the only way for survival. Amidst the smoke and carnage with an enemy all around, one medic, who refuses to fire a bullet, stays behind to help the wounded. His prayer is one phrase.
The incredible true story of WWII Army Medic Desmond T. Doss in HACKSAW RIDGE is a riveting and inspirational message about faith, courage and honor. Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield) was the first conscientious objector to win the Medal of Honor. A Conscientious Objector is a person who refuses to serve in the military because of moral or religious beliefs. However, Doss DOES want so serve in the military. With his whole heart he loves his country and believes it to be his duty to enlist and serve as a medic. His one stipulation is that he refuses to fire or even hold a weapon. This way of thinking is dealt with great opposition. While it may hold true to his beliefs, may also adversely affect those he loves.
The first act is built around a love story as Doss courts a young nurse he is sweet on (Teresa Palmer). But as they go through the tropes of grinning and flirting, one can’t help but have a smile on their face. Much like his masterful 2006 achievement, APOCALYPTO, director Mel Gibson has an uncanny way of humanizing and creating character. At times, HACKSAW RIDGE feels overly sentimental, but it’s also infectious through genuine character development and authentic details. No matter who they are, all the characters are worth caring about: The alcoholic father played by Hugo Weaving, the assertive in-your-face drill sergeant played Vince Vaughn, the annoyed Captain who wants nothing more than to rid himself of Dodd played by Sam Worthington, and the strong, bullyish brother in arms played by Luke Bracey. These are just some of the oppositions that Dodd must win over. They aren’t one note characters but each one contains a depth worth remembering through wonderful performances.
The amount of fear these men must have had as they climbed a long roped wall to their assured death could only be topped by their courage to keep moving forward. Gibson delivers another heart-pounding visual experience through the horrors of war that hasn’t been captured since SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. But the strength of these soldiers and the fortitude of Desmond T. Doss is awe-inspiring. It’s not only that Doss dared to stand strong for his beliefs but it was how he did it. his loving actions and willingness to be used as a vessel to help others.
The phrase “incredible true story” has been overdone and stretched thin. Sure it’s true but how many of the details have been greatly embellished? I don’t have a problem with molding or tightening in order to create an impactful or entertaining story but that line has sometimes been exaggerated in order to sell tickets. HACKSAW RIDGE fully comes together when in the final moments before the credits, some of the actual surviving veterans involved tell their story of the events. Gibson was wise to use this interview footage as it brings the already impressive and inspiring film to another level that hits with a powerful resonance.
With only a handful of films on his resume, Mel Gibson continues to prove to be an extraordinary director. Some might be turned off by the brutal war violence and some might be turned off by the faith based message from the lead character. Without pushing an agenda, there are subtle themes that look at both sides of issues like violence, forgiveness, courage, hope, honor and faith that make good films great. For me, HACKSAW RIDGE is not only a riveting and inspiring true story with great cinematic achievement through authentic visuals, but also a powerful allegory about the gift of salvation and the humility, courage, and loving nature that I should strive toward in order to be that encouraging example. It’s not enough just to stand up for what you believe, but it’s how you do it that changes hearts and lives.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: This is another 4K presentation that offers subtle improvements over the Blu-ray. If you watch them separately, there’s not going to be anything that will jump out as being overly improved, but when you compare the individual scenes, you’ll see a nice uptick in detail and some differences in the colors. I thought this was evident during the big battle, where the smoke would clear to reveal details in the backgrounds that weren’t there in the Blu-ray. We also get the normal increase in details and colors during closeups, where you can see clothing textures and details that weren’t evident on the Blu-ray. This isn’t a 4K transfer that will blow you away, but it’s a nice upgrade.
Audio: The 4K features the same Dolby Atmos track found on the Blu-ray and it’s fantastic.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
The 4K UHD does not contain any exclusive features, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film, which includes the following special features:
Deleted Scenes (4:30): Nothing too exciting here and I’d guess they were trimmed for pacing purposes.
The soul of War: Making Hacksaw Ridge (1:09:44): I could listen to Mel Gibson talk about his movies all day and this is the next best thing in lieu of a commentary. This is a nice featurette for fans of the film and offers details into just about every aspect of the film.
Veterans Day Greeting With Mel Gibson (1:00): Mel talks about how great vets are. Not sure why this was included since it’s too short to amount to anything and too lazily put together to be respected.