Mel Gibson finds 'redemption' with Hacksaw Ridge getting rave reviews

Mel Gibson may finally have found redemption with his new film Hacksaw Ridge receiving a rapturous response at the Venice Film Festival.

It's the 60-year-old Australian filmmaker's first movie as director since Apocalypto in 2006 - released the same year his anti-Semitic tirade at a police officer became the first in a string of scandals that resulted in a decade of public humiliation.

Filmed in New South Wales last year, Hacksaw Ridge has "tested through the roof" in preview screenings in America and opens in November, a sure sign the studio hopes to put it in contention for the Oscars.

Mel Gibson attends the premiere of 'Hacksaw Ridge' during the 73rd Venice Film Festival at Sala Grande on September 4, 2016 in Venice, Italy. Photo / Getty
Mel Gibson attends the premiere of 'Hacksaw Ridge' during the 73rd Venice Film Festival at Sala Grande on September 4, 2016 in Venice, Italy. Photo / Getty

It tells the true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) a conscientious objector who won the Congression Medal of Honour in World War II for saving 75 men.

But critics have also put audiences on notice that the film's centrepiece, the bloody assault on Okinawa in 1945, is one of the most violent and impactful battle scenes ever filmed.

President Truman awarding Congressional Medal of Honor to Corporal Desmond Doss of Lynchburg, Va., a conscientious objector who served in Medical Corps. Photo / Getty
President Truman awarding Congressional Medal of Honor to Corporal Desmond Doss of Lynchburg, Va., a conscientious objector who served in Medical Corps. Photo / Getty

Mike LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle tweeted: "The battle scenes in #HacksawRidge make the opening scene in Saving Private Ryan look like a Noel Coward play."

The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney hailed the film as a "forceful comeback ...a violent drama about pacifism that succeeds in combining horror with grace...[Gibson is] a muscular storyteller who knows exactly how to raise a pulse, heighten emotion and build intensity to explosive peaks."

Variety's Owen Gleiberman said the film immersed the viewer in the violent madness of war from the perspective of a man who refuses to participate in the violence.

Vince Vauhgn, Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer, director Mel Gibson, Hugo Weaving and Luke Bracey attend the premiere of 'Hacksaw Ridge.' Photo / Getty
Vince Vauhgn, Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer, director Mel Gibson, Hugo Weaving and Luke Bracey attend the premiere of 'Hacksaw Ridge.' Photo / Getty

"You could argue that Gibson, as a filmmaker, is having his bloody cake and eating it too, but the less cynical (and more accurate) way to put it might be that Hacksaw Ridge is a ritual of renunciation," he wrote.

The Guardian's Andrew Pulver said that while many still found Gibson a "repellent figure" there was no arguing with his directorial ability and that "He's absolutely hit Hacksaw Ridge out of the park...Gibson is a man looking for redemption, and in this redemptive vision he may just have found it."

The Telegraph in Britain gave Hacksaw Ridge four stars and said it owed a debt to the 1981 film Gallipoli that Gibson starred in: "a fantastically moving and bruising war film...its story of an outcast finding redemption through superhuman levels of suffering is pure Gibson" and suggested it formed an unofficial trilogy with Apocalypto and The Passion of the Christ.

Gibson attended the premiere with Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughn, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer and Hugo Weaving and told a press conference he was extremely moved by the real-life tale.

Actor Hugo Weaving, director Mel Gibson, actor Vince Vaughn, actress Teresa Palmer and actor Luke Bracey attend a photo-call for 'Hacksaw Ridge.' Photo / Getty
Actor Hugo Weaving, director Mel Gibson, actor Vince Vaughn, actress Teresa Palmer and actor Luke Bracey attend a photo-call for 'Hacksaw Ridge.' Photo / Getty

"To have an ordinary man do extraordinary things in incredibly difficult circumstances is the makings of legendary storytelling.

"His struggle is singular - in the midst of Hell on Earth, he goes in armed with nothing more than faith and conviction. He does something extraordinary and supernatural, really, that inspired me," he said.

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Earlier he was asked to sum up his current relationship with Hollywood in one word. He laughed "Just one word? It's the same word everyone uses in relation to Hollywood: survival."

Hacksaw Ridge opens on November 3.

- news.com.au

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