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Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Mel Gibson seems to have taken a cue from Mad Max creator George Miller, working practically off the grid in Australia and returning to major-league prominence with a brutal, timely, and profoundly American war movie. Hacksaw Ridge tells the real-life story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), a World War II army medic who refused to carry a rifle. Despite ridicule, threat of court martial, and the horrors of actual combat, Doss became a hero during the Battle of Okinawa, single-handedly escorting seventy-five wounded soldiers to safety. Gibson fashions his story after the same kind of rah-rah propaganda pieces that lured young men into service with a righteous cause and zero inkling of the psychological or spiritual price tag. One of the year’s best, most important films, Hacksaw Ridge’s fourth-wall-smashing meta-escapism rips away the veil of war-as-abstraction by drawing narrative and formative parallels to the West’s disconcerting new-century womb of distraction.

Listen to Kicking the Seat Podcast #166 for an in-depth discussion of Hacksaw Ridge!