- The Washington Times - Monday, February 20, 2017

Mel Gibson’s returns to the director’s chair arrives in ultra high-definition with the critically acclaimed, Academy Award-nominated Hacksaw Ridge (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, Rated R, 131 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $42.99).

Based on the heroic efforts of real-life medic Desmond Doss during the brutal fight against Japan in World War II, the compelling biographical drama stars Andrew Garfield as the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor for his unimaginable valor.

Specifically, Doss single-handedly saved 75 men during the Allies’ attempts to secure Okinawa Island in the famous 1945 battle.

He literally dragged and carried injured men off of the field and lowered them to safety over a harrowing cliff (the Maeda Escarpment nicknamed Hacksaw Ridge) as aggressive Japanese soldiers were on the prowl — and he was wounded four times in the process.

Mr. Garfield dives into his role whole-heartedly, portraying Doss as an honorable and religious man unwilling to touch a gun and kill the enemy but compelled to do his part in the war effort, even if it means literally walking into hell over and over again.

The actor received strong acting support from Teresa Palmer as Doss‘ wife Dorothy Schutte, Hugo Weaving as his father Tom Doss, Sam Worthington as Capt. Jack Glover and a surprisingly intense Vince Vaughn as Sgt. Howell.

4K UHD in action: Although, the digital transfer is a 4K upscale of the original 2K-source material, the 2160p presentation with high dynamic range enhancements still makes watching the movie an impressive upgrade from the Blu-ray version.

Viewers will first oddly notice the cloth textures seen in character’s sweater vests with fiber details distinguishing wool and felt versus cotton.

A bit later they will be blown away by a colorfully vibrant moment of Mr. Doss and his future wife kissing at the top of the Blue Ridge mountains in Virginia.

However, viewers beware: A multiple, hard-core battle sequence delivered a gut-wrenching and stomach-unsettling experience. The detail of carnage — down to men suffering from blown-off limbs, bodies on fire, the spurting of blood and rats eating dead soldiers — will not be forgotten.

A Dolby Atmos sound mix supports the action to deliver a fair share of jump scares during the screams of close-quarters combat, the roar of battleships pummeling the island and even the lighter plinking of bullet casings discharging from a machine gun.

Suffice to report; the overall visual and aural realism is jarring to the level of unimaginable.

While watching the intense sequences, I often thought about my father who fought in the Italian campaign in World War II.

If what I saw onscreen was any indication of what he had to survive, the world should never forget what my dad and other soldiers sacrificed and continue to sacrifice for freedom.

Best extras: Thankfully, owners get all of bonus content on the 4K UHD disc (usually relegated to the included Blu-ray) to further appreciate the movie, but it’s slim pickings.

Besides a few deleted scenes and a short promotional message from Mr. Gibson to veterans, the lead segment is a 70-minute overview of the movie production.

It’s well worth the time investment and features interviews with Mr. Gibson, Mr. Garfield, screenwriters Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight, producer Bill Mechanic and even Doss‘ 70-year old son Desmond Jr.

The documentary clearly explains the arduous process of getting the film green-lit, an odyssey that took over a decade as well as all Mr. Gibson insisting it’s more of a love story than war film. To paraphrase the director, Doss sacrificing himself to save fellow men over and over again shows no greater love for humanity.

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