November 14, 2016
In a fully explosive performance, Andrew Garfield plays Desmond Doss, the first “conscientious objector” (soldier to choose to go into battle without a gun) to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, after he remained behind when his battalion was forced to pull out the during a tricky stage of the 1945 Battle of Okinawa, single-handedly carrying 75 wounded men to safety.
The movie starts off in Virginia, as Desmond is introduced as a scrappy kid who knocks his brother out cold in a fight, almost causing serious injury. That episode serves as a cautionary lesson, and he grows up with strict moral codes. Desmond’s father Tom is a mean, abusive drunk, scarred by his time in the First World War, and the loss of the buddies with whom he enlisted. When Tom turns his anger on the boys’ mother, Bertha Desmond grabs hold of a pistol and steps in to stop him. After this sense, he swears never to touch a gun again.
Defying their father’s wishes, Desmond’s brother Hal enlists to fight after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, and Desmond follows soon after. But training camp proves tough for him when he insists on his constitutional right to serve strictly as a medic, refusing to comply with mandatory rifle training. His fellow soldiers interpret Desmond’s principles as cowardly, generating aggressive hostility, especially from tough-guy Smitty.
These scenes change into familiar territory, with Vaughn’s character recalling countless overbearing screen drill sergeants who break in their men with humiliation and physical punishment, while Worthington’s characterization doesn’t go much beyond gimlet-eyed appraisal and gravel-voiced disdain.
The action then explodes into a bloody battle in the riveting second half, after Desmond’s troops ships out to the Pacific. The devastation is already extensive and the ground covered with bloody corpses by the time Glover and Howell unite the remaining troops for another assault.
Anyone with a slight knowledge of WWII history will know the outcome, but it is a dramatic take on a unique story. That is what sets it aside from any other war movie and we highly recommend this film to anyone that enjoys action and suspense!