*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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*NEW* POINT BREAK 3D REVIEW *NEW*

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What was the point?

A young FBI agent (Luke Bracey) infiltrates an extraordinary team of extreme sports athletes he suspects of masterminding a string of unprecedented, sophisticated corporate heists.

Woah. This was bad. I don’t know why I expected anything else. A needless remake of an iconic action thriller that did nothing to justify its production.

Now credit where’s it due. The opening was actually quite watchable and zipped along. A silly introduction made full use of the gimmicky 3D. Something I haven’t been able to say for the majority of these heavily flogged features. Bracey’s Utah blazing sand and gravel from his dirt bike straight out at the screen.

It was a little corny BUT it set up Utah’s thirst for adrenaline. A necessary skill set. Apparently. A botched stunt soon sets him on the straight and narrow. And we flash forward to the present with Utah now enlisted in the FBI. Woah.

Bracey (The Best of Me) was perfectly cast as Utah. And for the first 30 minutes, I was actually NOT hating it. He looked like a surfer dude and channeled his inner Keanu. Oh, how wrong I was. Like the great (and dare I say, CGI’d?) waves that Utah and Bodhi surfed, the pace meandered along and had little to offer in plot, action or quotable dialogue. Even the little nods to the original came off half-arsed. Okay, the President faces laminated on the motorbike helmets wasn’t a bad touch.

Now the heists were actually quite good. The special effects were brilliant. A fantastic sequence in which the suspected criminal gang of adrenaline junkies unleash millions of dollars from a plane stopped my griping for a moment. The 3D gimmick flickering dollar bills at my face. BUT the problem was that there wasn’t enough of these moments.

One good scene does not a good movie make. Ray Winstone’s performance as Pappas was dreadful. It didn’t help that he had to drawl out some cliched and incredibly naff dialogue BUT his character had nothing on Gary Busey. Speaking of drawls; was Winstone supposed to be American? His mish-mash accent didn’t work at all. Just keep it cockney, Ray.

Delroy Lindo (Gone In Sixty Seconds) was completely wasted in his role as Instructor Hall. He should have been in it more. His reaction when Utah tries to explain the incredibly hammy plot entertained me more than the rest of the cast.

Edgar Ramirez (The Bourne Ultimatum) was always going to struggle to match Patrick Swayze’s charm BUT he didn’t do a bad Bodhi. A charismatic presence in a lifeless piece. His relationship with Utah didn’t have that natural chemistry like the original. It felt rushed and was cliched to death. The macho street brawls, ridiculous ‘hippy’ mantra and cheesy bro-mantic hugging was too much.

The pace dragged when the heists weren’t taking place. We had to drudge through droll dialogue, cheesy exchanges and a laughable plot line that went no where. Utah’s romance with Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies) was completely unnecessary. It added nothing to the mix and the pair didn’t even have the same chemistry as Reeves and Lori Petty (Free Willy).

The premise was weak. A group of adrenaline junkies attempting to complete a teaching called the Ozaki 8. Eight ordeals to honour the forces of nature. Yeah, I know right? The whole taking from the rich and giving to the poor spiel was fine BUT it was so obvious that it was Bodhi’s gang doing this and yet our hero couldn’t see it. Even when he was taking part in one of the crimes?!

Ericson Core’s cinematography made this like something out of a Michael Bay flick and there were a couple of decent set pieces BUT otherwise, this remake was terrible. Boring, predictable and thoroughly disappointing.

A washout indeed.

2/5

THE BEST OF ME REVIEW

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Not the best for me. Two stars for the two couples.

James Marsden (X Men), Michelle Monaghan (True Detective) and their “younger” counterparts do their best to uplift an incredibly tame and cheesy love story but . . . alas! To no avail.

Another film to be adapted from another Nicholas Sparks novel and hopefully the last.

A little harsh but if they are NOT going to try and do something different than why bother?

The Notebook and even the one with that couple that I can’t remember were so much better. Oh hang on, Endless Love.

It didn’t help that I had quips about Luke Bracey (G.I.Joe: Retaliation). Now despite being the same age as myself or I (Never get that right), he looked considerably older than Liana Liberato (If I Stay) AND James Marsden.

Bracey is supposed to be a younger Marsden. NOW Bracey is 6 foot something while James Marsden is a good head shorter. I know you shrink when you get older but come on! That’s when you’re in your 70s/80s not 40s. Even Liberato beared some similarities to Monaghan.

Anyway, rant over . . . On that little quip.

Liberato and Bracey have good chemistry as do their future counterparts M&M. BUT it’s all so dreadfully corny, predictable and at a whopping 132 minutes, I expected a little bit more drama to justify the length.

It’s certainly watchable. And I guess it helps to be part of a couple not a miserable cynic like yours truly. BUT after the nicey nicey opening hour with all the luvvy duvvy guff, I found myself looking at my watch. Liberato and Bracey will certainly be ones to watch for the future and making waves in the right places.

Sean Bridgers was delightfully sinister as Dawson’s (Bracey/Marsden) redneck father Tommy Cole and brought in a darker undertone and the much needed drama I seeked. He will certainly survive from this film relatively unscathed and made a memorable turn. But with that blasted 12A certificate hovering over this story, I knew the story couldn’t go as far as you could have. A shame.

BUT that’s not to say there were wasn’t some unexpected twists. Predicted but considering the fluffy tone that this film first portrayed, it was still unexpected without spoiling the film for those who are still tempted to give it a go.

The closing moments also fitted that heading appropriately. Dreadfully predictable but, none the less, grab your tissues if you’re one for the weepies.

Now I admit, I have had a teary eye in the odd rom drom BUT this made me cry for all the wrong reasons. It’s not all bad. Certainly watchable but there have been so many couple movies out this year worth seeing. I enjoyed Love, Rosie a lot more by comparison. This was lazy, slow and ended so predictably that I’m not surprised that it’s leaving the box office quicker than it entered.

There are some endearing moments, especially with the couples’ relationship with Gerald McRaney’s (Jericho) Tuck. McRaney was brilliant and really did justice to a character that shouldn’t have been as memorable. He also works well with Bracey which made their relationship a little more likeable. I haven’t read the novel so I cannot say whether the film has done it justice. BUT one thing, it most certainly hasn’t spurred me on to read it.

The cast do their best to uplift what really is a Sunday matinee TV movie that you’d expect to see on True Movies. It’s watchable BUT I ‘d already forgotten it as soon as I left the cinema.

2/5