Rated R for graphic violence, gruesome images and ethnic slurs
World War II Biopic Chronicles Battlefield Exploits Of Heroic Army Medic
Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) was born in the Blue Ridge Mountains where he was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist. Devoutly religious, he followed his faith’s literal interpretation of the 10 Commandments, including the 5th’s dictate that “Thou shalt not kill.” So, when he rushed to enlisted in the Army right after the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, he did so as a Conscientious Objector.
But because he was unwilling to touch, let alone carry a weapon, Desmond was teased mercilessly by other members of his platoon. In fact, he was not only beaten to a pulp by a bully (Luke Bracey), but court-martialed for failing to complete the weapons part of basic training.
However, the military tribunal ruled in Desmond’s favor after his World War I veteran father (Hugo Weaving) showed up to testify on his behalf. Still, his fellow G.I.s remained reluctant to embrace a comrade they suspected to be a coward, since they had just been taught by hard-nosed Sergeant Howell (Vince Vaughn) that a unit was no stronger than its weakest link.
Nevertheless, Desmond was commissioned as a medic with the 307th Infantry with whom he would more than prove his mettle on the island of Okinawa in the bloodiest battle of World War II. For, he exhibited extraordinary courage over the course of a month spent dodging bullets and bombs to attend to the wounded during the siege of Hacksaw Ridge.
Desmond would save the lives of 75 grateful soldiers, and his selfless exploits would be appreciated by both grateful buddies and the Pentagon. And the heroic medic eventually became the first Conscientious Objector to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
All of the above is recounted in riveting fashion in Hacksaw Ridge, a gripping biopic directed by Mel Gibson. Fair warning: the film features very graphic battlefield tableaux reminiscent of the gory D-Day reenactments found in Saving Private Ryan (1998).
When not devoting its attention to recreating gruesome war scenes, the flashback flick focuses on Desmond’s formative years, as well as to his whirlwind romance with Dorothy Schutte (Teresa Palmer), the pretty nurse he fell in love with at first sight and married shortly before shipping out for the Pacific Theater of Operations. The film fittingly brings down the curtain with archival newsreels and stills of the real-life Desmond and Dorothy to ensure there won’t be a dry eye in the house following the closing credits.
A moving portrait of an unorthodox war hero who contributed considerably to the effort without ever wielding a weapon against the enemy.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 131 minutes
Rated PG-13 for action, violence, profanity, disturbing images, mature themes and brief sensuality
Hanks And Howard Collaborate On Another Adaptation Of A Dan Brown Best Seller
Dan Brown is the author of a quartet of best-selling mysteries featuring Harvard Professor Robert Langdon as the protagonist. The phenomenally-popular novels have sold over 100 million copies and counting, with the fifth in the series slated to be released in the fall of 2017.
Screen versions of the first two Robert Langdon books, The Da Vinci Code (2006) and Angels & Demons (2009), netted over a billion dollars at the box office. So, it’s no surprise that another adaptation might be in order.
Inferno reunites director Ron Howard with Tom Hanks who reprises his lead role as a genius with an uncanny knack for deciphering ancient symbols and religious iconography. And Howard enlisted the assistance of a stellar support cast which includes Ben Foster, Felicity Jones, Irrfan Khan and Omar Sy.
Inferno is easily the most successful of the offerings, as it reins in Langdon’s earlier tendency to overindulgence in inscrutable jargon. This go round, the intellectual badinage has been minimized to make way for a flurry of visually-captivating action sequences.
Another plus is the easy to follow plotline. The point of departure is a hospital in Florence, Italy, which is where we find Langdon suffering from amnesia yet lucky to be alive given how a bullet to the head only grazed his scalp.
Before we even have a chance to blink, a gun-toting assassin (Ana Ularu) arrives to finish the job. Fortunately, Langdon’s gorgeous doctor, Sienna Brooks (Jones), not only helps him escape on the spot, but is prepared to abandon her practice to go on the run with her traumatized patient.
As it turns out, the hit woman was part of a much larger conspiracy. For, she was merely doing the bidding of Bertrand Zobrist (Foster), an evil billionaire on the verge of hatching a disturbing solution for the world’s overpopulation problem. Essentially, the madman’s plan is to unleash a lethal virus designed to kill half the people on the planet in less than a week.
That sets the stage for Langdon and Sienna’s dizzying race against time to unearth a cornucopia of clues enabling them to track down and disarm the diabolical Zobrist. That in a nutshell is the sum and substance of Inferno, except for a humdinger of a twist it would be unfair to spoil.
Easily, the most accessible, engaging, entertaining and cinematic adaptation of a Dan Brown thriller yet!
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 126 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening November 4, 2016
Doctor Strange (PG-13 for action, crashes and pervasive violence) Benedict Cumberbatch plays the Marvel Comics character in this origins tale revolving around a neurosurgeon who morphs into a superhero in the wake of a tragic car accident. Ensemble cast includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams and Benjamin Bratt.
Loving (PG-13 for mature themes) Reverential biopic recounting the legal and real-life struggles of the Virginia couple (Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton) who mounted the historic court battle leading to a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision on interracial marriage. With Will Dalton, Dean Mumford and Terri Abney.
Trolls (PG for mild rude humor) Animated musical adventure about the alliance reluctantly forged by an optimist (Anna Kendrick) and a pessimist (Justin Timberlake) to defend their village from a race of ravenous creatures who like to feast on tiny trolls. Voice cast includes Zooey Deschanel, Jeffrey Tambor, Russell Brand and Gwen Stefani.
All Governments Lie (Unrated) Prestige biopic recounting intrepid investigative journalist I.F. Stone’s (1907-1989) career dedicated to uncovering political corruption and coverups.
Dog Eat Dog (Unrated) Adaptation of the Edward Bunker best seller of the same name about a trio of ex-cons (Willem Dafoe, Nicolas Cage and Christopher Matthew Cook) hired by a mob boss (Paul Schrader) to kidnap his rival’s baby. With Omar J. Dorsey, Louisa Krause and Melissa Bolona.
The Eagle Huntress (G) Coming-of-age biopic chronicling the epic quest of 13-year-old Aisholpan, hailing from a tribe of Mongolian nomads, to become the first female in her family in a dozen generations to earn the esteemed status of Eagle Hunter. (In Kazakh with subtitles)
Ivory: A Crime Story (Unrated) Endangered species exposé examining the cause and consequences of the worldwide demand for ivory which has left the elephant on the brink of extermination.
My Dead Boyfriend (R for profanity and sexuality) Macabre comedy about a struggling writer (Heather Graham) who only uncovers the truth about her couch potato beau (Rich Graf) after he passes away while sitting in front of the TV. With Griffin Dunne, John Corbett and Gina Gershon.
Peter And The Farm (Unrated) Warts-and-all biopic about Peter Dunning who manages to maintain his 187-acre Vermont farm on his own despite depression, alcoholism and having been abandoned by three wives and four children.
The Prison In Twelve Landscapes (Unrated) Criminal justice system documentary showcasing a dozen correctional facilities doing great work rehabilitating inmates.