MEL GIBSON PUTS THE “HACK” IN ‘HACKSAW RIDGE’.
I saw ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ the other night.
It’s a nice story. Powerful.
But it’s critical to evaluate a story separately from its telling. And this is a story told by someone who didn’t demonstrate that he could be trusted to deliver an important phone message.
Mel Gibson was the teller here. He showed me good-hearted patriotic Americans fighting cruel Japs over a piece of land the size of a sound stage.
He showed me soldiers on fire, every one of whom had the presence of mind to put on safety gear before they went tumbling through the air. Because yeah, when somebody fires a flame thrower at you, that’s when you become a gymnast.
But the part where he really lost me? When he showed our lead –– the dim-witted-but-sweet hick –– strolling into an army barracks on his first day in the army, encountering every single cliché from army sitcoms going back to the 60s. We got us a little Eye-talian guy, a fast talking New Yorker, a “Hollywood” leading man, and a Texan who actually –– and no, I’m not making this up –– twirls a lariat while wearing a ten-gallon hat.
Wow. It’s like Gomer Pyle, only not funny.
Seriously, Mel, is that really what Americans look like to you? ’Hogan’s Heroes’ presented those same characters with more depth.
There’s a notion rattling around film schools that one way to understand a film is to think of the leading man as a better-looking version of the director.
If that’s the case, Mel’s not just dim-witted, he’s goofy looking.
Brian Belefant is a director who isn’t nearly as good looking as Mel Gibson. You can reach him at (503) 715 2852 or send an email to belefant (at) me (dot) com.