*NEW* HACKSAW RIDGE REVIEW *NEW*

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Brutal, gripping, hard hitting.

The true story of WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refused to kill people, and became the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot.

I was a little worried at first that Garfield was going to come off as a bumbling Forrest Gump with his bashful demeanour and Southern accent BUT he delivered enough charm and charisma to win me over. A strong performance.

The first 40-odd minutes was corny but easy going enough as we followed Desmond through his childhood years right up to his enrollment.

A good portion of that time was spent on wooing the local nurse Dorothy (Teresa Palmer – Lights Out). It may have been a little schmaltzy BUT the pair had good chemistry and I was happy to watch.

The flashbacks flicking back and forth into Desmond’s past broke up the cheesy romance as we discovered the reasons behind his refusal to carry a firearm.

It was great to see Hugo Weaving as Doss’ embittered drunken vet father. He played it with aplomb. A tormented man who had already “died” with his men in the Great War.

His survival nothing more than a curse. Punishing himself and his family. I was surprised at his reaction when he discovered that his two sons had enlisted.

The boot camp training montage was a little predictable. Especially when Doss had to compete with the macho hot head Smitty Ryker (Luke Bracey – Point Break).

BUT it still hit home as Desmond fought against the military hierarchy. Reserving his right to serve as a medic:

“No less danger, just . . . while everybody else is taking life, I’m going to be saving it. With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it doesn’t seem like such a bad thing to me to wanna put a little bit of it back together”.

I wasn’t sure whether Vince Vaughn would cut it as Sergeant Howell. I was hoping this role would be a change from his usual spiel.

BUT his Wedding Crashers style drill call and endless shouting was hit and miss. It was a little too OTT for my liking as he gave the privates nicknames. However, there were a couple of clever one liners.

BUT as Doss’ struggle worsened, Howell soon won me over as he realised the stubborn Virginian wasn’t going to back down. Fighting for his beliefs.

Sam Worthington (Avatar) was brilliant as the callous Captain Glover. Embarrassed to have a “conscientious objector” in his ranks. Ordering Howell to force the boy’s resignation.

Doss’ treatment was shocking. Beaten until he was black and blue by members of his own infantry. Pushed to the very edge. He was even denied a day pass to attend his own wedding. Unbelievable.

It went right up to a military tribunal and even during the first attack on Hacksaw, troops were still weary of the medic. The second half of the film was something to behold. A true act of honour and dedication.

I had no doubt on ol’ Blue Eyes taking the helm. We had already seen a return to form with his stellar turn in Blood Father and this latest entry from the Braveheart and We Were Soldiers director was a step in the right direction.

The violence was ridiculous. Gibson definitely didn’t hold back the punches. It was visceral, gory and bloody as hell. He really showed the true extent of what war can do to a soldier.

The only problem with all the CGI (especially with the flamethrower attacks) was that it came off like something out of Starship Troopers! And when Doss kicked that grenade like a football, I couldn’t help but tut. Hollywood had to put their stamp on it somewhere.

“Just give me one more”

I was on tenterhooks right up to the emotional and fitting tribute. As every one else had climbed back down off the ridge, Doss stayed to tend to the wounded.

Covering up the injured from the lurking Japanese. Evading capture and sniper fire. Discovering their hidden trenches.

Tense, gripping. I was completely transfixed as this young man, with no firearm, saved 70 soldiers who were already deemed lost by their superior officers.

He even tried to save several Japanese officers who didn’t quite make the journey back to the medical tent.

Despite a 139 minute running time, the pace didn’t test. Garfield impressed yet again, giving one of his best performances to date.

It was nail biting and enthralling. That final act when Glover apologizes to the crazy Virginian was heartbreaking.

The real life interviews and footage in the closing credits really brought it home.

A compelling drama as one man defied the odds and fought for what was right.

While not the greatest war film, Hacksaw is still worthy of your attention.

4/5

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THE EXPENDABLES 3 REVIEW

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They’re back. The Dad’s Army of has been action heroes return for a third and possibly final adventure with ridiculous OTT action sequences, hammy dialogue and cheesy banter.

In all fairness, I went in fearing the worst but it wasn’t all that bad. Hardly great BUT in terms of cheesy entertainment, surprisingly watchable. The only downfall was Stallone’s feeble attempt at injecting new faces to prolong this hardly must see franchise with cliched, bland newbies that fail to have the reputation to pull in interest or (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) the acting ability to carry it.

The first hour was watchable, pacey and chugged along well. The opening prison train sequence was OTT, cheesy but fun and there’s plenty of it in this.

The return of Wesley Snipes and Mel Gibson to the big screen was a sight to see. Despite their previous misdemeanours, both showed why they still know how to steal the show. Snipes was on fine form . . . to begin with.

A great introduction in which Stallone lectures him on his incarceration. Cue Statham asking what he was in for. I thought in my head, “It would be great if he said a tax joke” and before I know it, bam! Tax evasion. I think that’s what helped the hammy dialogue, the banter, the little pops at each other.

The number of digs at Stallone for his speech. Even daring enough to pop a stroke gag. All in reasonably good taste. Snipes seemed to take over Terry Crews’ role which I found highly strange. Can there not be two black guys? We have one. Don’t need another, apparently.

Crews got one moment to shine involving a chain gun before getting injured or something surprisingly weak for this macho filled mess of a blockbuster. To be honest, it was to do with contractual obligations more than anything. Still, his presence was missed.

The camaraderie among the Expendables was decent. All the old boys having a laugh and not giving a sh- blind bit of notice. And why should they? However, the middle act tested me with lulling generic clichéd one liners and poses. Ol’ Swarnie was not in it enough and when he was first introduced, his lines were bland and highly unmemorable and this is Swarnie, for crying out loud.

The story line went predictable as hell with Stallone confronting an old foe and former Expendable in the form of old Gibbo. Cue a self-deprecating suicide mission with Stallone pushing away the old gang and bringing new faces (in the form of ex-mixed martial arts fighters Ronda Rousey and Victor Ortiz and that dude from Twilight, Kellan Lutz) to tackle William Wallace.

It took a while for Gibson to shine. Once he gets to confront and endure the inaudible screaming of Stallone (Seriously I could not understand a word that man was saying. More so than usual), he gets to deliver malice to some cliched lines.

And that’s the thing that all the oldies prove. They may lack the vigour and pace of their younger counterparts (I mean, come on, they are in their SIXTIES) but their acting and charisma prove why they are still the big dogs and these young pups still have a lot to learn. They may look tough and do their own stunts but when it comes to acting. Generic face pulling and grimaces is just not good. Yes, you can say that for Stallone but the guy is an icon. These young ‘uns . . . Pfft.

The inevitable out with the old, in with the new I don’t need you spiel was always going to end the same way. It was unnecessary and so predictable with the oldies soon being called in again. It did make me laugh when the star studded line up appeared. Dolph (The Punisher/Drago) Lundgren, Arnold (Get to the Chopper!) Schwarzenegger, Harrison (Get Off My Plane!) Ford, Mel (Braveheart) Gibson, Wesley (Blade/Demolition Man) Snipes and . . . Kelsey Grammer.

Frasier (I’m listening) Crane. What he’s going to do? Step on a rake and mutter away like Sideshow Bob? Anyway, I digress. In all fairness, Grammer was actually pretty good in the small part he played. Some friendly banter with Rocky as they pick the next group of recruits.

Harrison Ford was actually pretty good. Great to see he still has a sense of humour and lighten up. He plays the hard ass role to perfection and still has that sinister conviction of Air Force One; even if his lines don’t make sense. Trust me there’s a line about somebody messing it up and him wearing it that had me scratching my head. Stallone’s writing was never brilliant. But let’s not forget he did Rocky (however, he also did Rocky 4 and 5 etc).

The Stath’s acting was surprisingly wooden. Disappointing. Antonio Banderas was pretty much doing a live action impersonation of Puss in Boots. His intro said it all with Stallone Shrek (What?) and Grammer his donkey.

The action pieces are pretty good. There are moments where it got a bit too erratic and manic that the shaky camera work struggles to keep up and so do you. An issue I had with the first Expendables movie.

It gets OTT, ridiculous and corny as hell but the explosive finale allowed for all cheesy one liners with Swarnie getting to throw as many Chopper references as you could want.

All in all, if you’re looking for a big dumb shoot em up with some old 80s and 90s action heroes and some bang for your buck then give it a go.

Otherwise, move along folks! I didn’t really rate the first film. I thought it was okay. The second I still haven’t seen. This one was not bad. A guilty pleasure.

2.5/5 for me