Hacksaw Ridge: A Review By An Iraq War Veteran

Mel Gibson’s new comeback movie Hacksaw Ridge, the exciting story of Desmond Doss, is now being played in theaters around the US.  This movie is the latest topic in the Adventist church and has been discussed in many of our magazines.  In fact, churches and ministries are collaborating together to take advantage of this exciting opportunity to witness.  Church members are being encouraged to hand out tracts or free books on Desmond Doss’s life. These materials offer a chance for the reader to gain a relationship with Christ.  

It brought tears of joy to my eyes to hear the powerful story of Desmond Doss.  His bravery to save dying men can be seen in the documentary “The Conscientious Objector.”  When I joined the Army, I was trained and sent to Iraq to take lives. I was not a Desmond Doss.  However, the Holy Spirit reminded me about his story almost every day.  You can read about my time in the service and what I went through here

 As a veteran, the subject of this movie piqued my interest.  At first I considered going to see it to see how Doss’ testimony would be shared.  I thought that might be the only way for me to be able to connect with those who would be seeing it.  After careful consideration I reconsidered.  Can a person have an opinion about a movie without having to view it for themselves?  I believe so, especially when an individual has counsel from the Spirit of Prophecy, the Word of God, and does their own diligent research.  Have I seen the new movie Hacksaw Ridge? The answer is no and I do not intend to.  I pray that you also reach the same decision after you read this article.


What happens when you mix Saving Private Ryan with the Passion of Christ?  You get Hacksaw Ridge, a movie that holds nothing back from the imagination.  It is said to be the goriest movie of our time.  It is a film that glorifies violence and killing, yet is about someone who opposed violence and killing.  I believe that in this movie, the pure testimony found in Brother Doss is lost.  Yes, they do mention the Sabbath and our church, but does that make it a movie that we should watch?

Here is what some of the world’s movie critics had to say.

Mike's movie review says “He refused to pick up a gun.  He made a promise to God.  And this might sound like, oh my God is this some kind of Jesus freak.  That’s not the point here.  Just ignore all of that, that’s not the point in this film.”
“The battle scenes in this movie are frightening and brutally realistic.   Nothing has been held back and they are gory … the whole Christianity thing kind of falls to the wayside” Chris Stuckmann.
“Hacksaw Ridge is about optimism and the human spirit conquering all, like the most powerful thing you can have” Jeremy Jahns

The very thing that Desmond Doss did not want his testimony to become is now alive through the movie Hacksaw Ridge.  It has nudity, foul language, violence, and stomach-turning amounts of blood.  You can see a Christian movie review here: http://www.pluggedin.com/movie-reviews/hacksaw-ridge.

For the longest time, Brother Desmond refused to allow his testimony to be shared through the means of Hollywood.  He could be heard saying “I don’t want to be glorified for what I did in World War II.”  Then he added, “For me, it is between me and God, and duty to my country.” Those who interviewed him reported, “Desmond didn’t believe in Hollywood or even going to the movies for that matter.  He felt it was an evil and irresponsible industry that promoted immoral and unhealthy lifestyles...” https://www.hopechannel.com/read/the-making-of-hacksaw-ridge.

A Seventh-day Adventist by the name of Jensen pursued Desmond in making this story into a movie.  He eventually gained permission a few years before Desmond passed away in 2006. The movie was intended to be made PG-13.  Unfortunately, as it got out of the hands of Adventists and was handed to the world, it turned into another dark R-rated movie.

The world gives the film high reviews, but what would Desmond Doss say if he were alive to see it?  He believed in the purity of his testimony, a purity rarely found in Hollywood and movie theaters.  I could see brother Desmond on Sabbath reading his Bible going over Phillipians 4:8 and coming to the conclusion that movie theaters do not mirror what he read.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

I can see brother Desmond opening the book Adventist Home and not wanting anything to do with the movie theater.

“In Christian homes a bulwark should be built against temptation. Satan is using every means to make crime and degrading vice popular. We cannot walk the streets of our cities without encountering flaring notices of crime presented in some novel or to be acted at some theater. The mind is educated to familiarity with sin. The course pursued by the base and vile is kept before the people in the periodicals of the day, and everything that can arouse passion is brought before them in exciting stories” (AH 406.2).

But what I cannot do is imagine God’s Advent Remnant saying it’s ok to go out and watch this movie.  In these end times we should be busy doing things other than indulging in sin with the world.

“The blessing of God would not be invoked upon the hour spent at the theater or in the dance. No Christian would wish to meet death in such a place. No one would wish to be found there when Christ shall come.—Messages to Young People, 398 (1882) {LDE 87.4}.
“As soon as these entertainments are introduced, the objections to theatergoing are removed from many minds, and the plea that moral and high-toned scenes are to be acted at the theater breaks down the last barrier. Those who would permit this class of amusements at the sanitarium would better be seeking wisdom from God to lead these poor, hungry, thirsting souls to the Fountain of joy and peace and happiness.” {CH 240.2}

Have movie theaters changed all that much in regards to sin since the late 1800’s?

After reviewing what has come out of Hollywood over the past decade, including Christian movies that were shown in movie theaters, I do not think so.  Nothing points directly towards Christ while staying true to the Word of God.  There is always truth mixed with error.  Even in this story about a Soldier standing up for his faith in God, facts are twisted.  A particular scene in the movie shows Desmond Doss in basic training and his fellow soldiers beating him to a bloody pulp.  In the reality, they simply threw their boots at him while he prayed.

Personal Illustration

The realism shown in Hacksaw ridge has been compared to the movie American Sniper.  A while ago I decided to watch American Sniper for a project that I was working on but I ended up turning it off about fifteen minutes into the movie.  As an Iraq war veteran, I occasionally experience PTSD and this was one of those times.  I found myself crying uncontrollably while memories started flashing through my mind of what I went through in Iraq.  I thought I had myself together so I went upstairs to eat lunch with my family and then in the middle of the kitchen I became emotional again as my wife escorted me to our bedroom away from our children.  This was the first time that my kids have ever really seen me cry.  My wife and I stayed close until I calmed down over the next ten minutes.  Why was it upsetting?  What I saw in the first fifteen minutes of American sniper made me feel as if I was back in the desert.  I do not want anybody to go through what I went through or see what I’ve seen.  This is what these movies accomplish when you watch them.  They make you feel as if you are part of the story that is being told, and war is not a very good story.  

I’ve witnessed mortar attacks, small arms fire, roadside bombs and injured soldiers.  You do not need to see a movie to know what somebody went through.  Even though it talks about our church and points towards the Sabbath, it is not a wholesome movie.  I’m sure the movie will put the church on the media’s radar for a little bit.  It may possibly spark small discussions of the Sabbath.  While these are good things, this is not how the Lord’s work is supposed to be done.

If you wish to see the science or an in-depth study on movies, I would encourage you to look at presentations by Little Light Ministries or Media on the Brain.  For a revival in your spiritual walk, check out Total Onslaught by Amazing Discoveries.  Satan knows what he’s doing in this war against God’s children and I believe that we are living in the end times.  

Christ’s soon return is just around the corner.  Are you ready for this war that is coming?  Are you fit for battle?  Are you trained and proficient in His Word and the saving of souls? When the enemy starts firing at us will you be able to stand among the artillery shells of persecution?  Will you be able to stand for your Commander-in-chief when He calls on you to service?  Or will you be found going AWOL and not showing up for duty in such a time as this?  Let us present everything in front of the cross to be examined by our Savior and pursue his loving character daily. 

Onward Christian soldiers !