Hacksaw Ridge & Sully

This weekend I got the opportunity to check out a couple of movies I had been meaning to see. Hacksaw Ridge and Sully. I don’t usually review or write about mainstream movies, but I really enjoyed both and wanted to jump in with a few observations.

First, Hacksaw Ridge is a very intense movie, but of excellent quality and very moving. Andrew Garfield should be a top contender, if not a shoe-in for the Best Actor Oscar. In fact, it should be nominated in every category. All reason for the R rating is due to the intensity of the battle scenes, which are quite realistic. Everything else is completely in line of what was appropriate for the time and military setting, so most content is either PG or PG-13.

As deserving of awards as this movie is, there are three things that Hollywood and the Academy hate in a movie that will hurt its chances: Christian content, pro-American content and Mel Gibson. For all his idiosyncrasies, Mel Gibson is a top-notch director and this movie more than lives up to that legacy. I have compared the story to the documentaries and judge this to be about eighty to ninety percent historically accurate.

It tells the story of Desmond Doss, a man who disliked the label that the government insisted on laying on him: Conscientious Objector. Despite his refusal to kill or even touch a weapon, Doss believed in the war effort and wanted to do his part by enlisting in the U.S. Army. He insisted on becoming a medic and managed to navigate the rules and politics to get his way of carrying a medical kit into combat and – unlike other medics – no firearm. His courage on Okinawa leads him to save about seventy-five soldiers from death and win the Congressional Medal of Honor in the process.

I also managed to get a last chance to catch Sully on the big screen at the local discount theater. Tom Hanks does his usual great job and portrays Captain Chesley Sullenberger in a superlative way. Clint Eastwood directed this fine dramatization of the Miracle on the Hudson where Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger set his US Airways flight down on the Hudson River in what is probably the most successful water landing in history. All 155 people on board managed to leave the river alive.

The movie is very well done and Capt. Sully stands by its accuracy. The one thing that had the Hollywood touch was the dealings with the NTSB, which Eastwood portrays as being overly harsh on Sully. The NTSB, I have read, was quite upset about this and feels that it was an unfair portrayal. In truth, there are three things to consider here. One is that they were reported to have been more routine and less personal than is portrayed. Two is that what spread out over fifteen months was tightly compressed in the movie which added to the seeming harshness. Lastly even if the investigation may seem harsh, the NTSB would not have been doing their jobs in providing for the public safety had they not entertained every angle in examining this incident.

Sully is a quite enjoyable movie and one that I plan to see again.

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