A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Have integrity, and stick to your convictions. Sometimes playing by the rules isn't the best way to do good. If you believe in yourself, it's OK if others don't understand you or even hate you. Courage is a clear theme.
Positive Role Models
Raised in a religious but violent home, young Doss nearly kills his brother with a brick. Later he renounces violence and refuses to even touch a weapon. He feels it's his duty to serve his country in battle as a medic, saving people. He valiantly sticks to his principles when the army tries to court martial him. Fellow soldiers who taunt and beat him later apologize after Doss puts himself in harm's way to save wounded soldiers.
Violence & Scariness
Extremely graphic war violence. Men are killed and maimed, all realistically shown. Soldiers are hacked into pieces by explosions. Warring soldiers hold a live grenade between them and grab onto each other until the grenade explodes, killing them both. Bullets hit soldiers in the head, legs, torsos, and more; lots of blood. Soldiers bayonet each other, and men on both sides are lit on fire (while alive) by flame-throwing weapons. Some slit enemies' throats. Piles of human entrails are seen on the battlefield. A man's foot is impaled with a knife. Rats gnaw at dead bodies. About to be defeated, a Japanese commander eviscerates himself with a knife, after which his head is cut off. Two young brothers fight, punching each other; one hits the other in the head with a large brick. An alcoholic father beats his children and wife and threatens the latter with a gun. Their grown son intervenes and points the gun at his father. A woman slaps a man after he kisses her, demanding he ask her first. A needle is inserted into the arm of a man giving blood. Doss' hands are rubbed raw and bloody from lowering wounded soldiers down the ridge by pulley. During the second battle, Doss kicks a live grenade back at the Japanese.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing, sometimes passionately. Doss and Dorothy prepare to go to bed on their wedding night; she's clothed, he shirtless. Soldiers are advised to "wear a hat" (a condom) if they plan to have sex. Non-sexual nudity includes a soldier doing pull-ups while naked and being forced to run an obstacle course naked by his sergeant (no graphic nudity).
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"S--t," "bitch," "ass," "numb nuts," "t-tty," "hell," "damn," "crap," and "Jesus Christ" as an exclamation. American soldiers refer to the Japanese as "Japs" and "Nips."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Doss' father is an abusive alcoholic. Wounded soldiers get morphine for their pain. Adults smoke cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hacksaw Ridge is based on the true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), a pacifist who enlisted in World War II but refused to carry a weapon or kill, preferring to save wounded men as a medic. Director Mel Gibson doesn't shy away from showing extremely graphic war violence. Bullets pierce flesh in slow motion, explosions toss men in the air, bleeding leg and arm stumps are shown, throats are slashed, soldiers bayonet each other to death, and men are graphically gutted, disembodied, and beheaded, with entrails and ligaments left hanging. Doss is also beaten by his fellow soldiers during basic training due to his refusal to carry a weapon. And his superior officers jail and put him on trial. Doss kisses and marries a nurse; they're seen (him shirtless, her clothed) on their wedding night. Doss' father is an abusive alcoholic. Adults smoke cigarettes and use language including: "s--t," "ass," "t--ties," "bitch," and the racist terms "Japs" and "Nips." Ultimately, though the movie's message is one of courage, integrity, and sticking to your convictions. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Although this WWII action drama is a technical wonder, the soul of the movie feels at odds with itself. While director Mel Gibson fairly represents Doss' pacifist principles, he also simultaneously stages another movie, a stealth movie, that presents war as a glorious character builder, a nurturing ground for male friendship, and an expression of man's nobility and grit. Yes, Gibson dutifully records the severed limbs and the moaning, wounded, hideously disfigured soldiers. War is hell, the movie says over and over again.
But, the director also reminds us, it's not without moments of nobility and magnificence -- as evidence by the gorgeous slow-motion depictions of bombs landing on human targets, bursting into awe-inspiring flames, and killing and maiming who knows how many, just to prove his point (a point he previously made in Braveheart). So it's hard not to feel like Hacksaw Ridge works as hard to undermine Doss' position as it does to support it. Many of the soldiers and officers who at first abuse and look down on Doss for his refusal to carry a gun later apologize to him after recognizing his bravery and the depth of his convictions. All of that said, Garfield does a great job playing Doss with intelligence, charm, and a believable inner spiritual life.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.