Director Mel Gibson’s first film since 2006’s Apocalypto is visceral proof that the years haven’t done much to change him, at least as a filmmaker. He still loves outliers isolated by their beliefs, in this case a real-life Seventh-Day Adventist named Desmond Doss who wants to serve his country but won’t carry a gun. (The conviction turns out to be as much promise as principle, a fact Gibson would have done well to make clear sooner in the story.) He still knows how to deliver uplift after breaking the viewer down with sorrow and horror. (In this capacity, Hugo Weaving very nearly steals the film as a ruined veteran of the Great War.) And to paraphrase A Christmas Story, he still works in blood and guts the way other artists might work in oils or clay. When your protagonist is a World War II medic during the campaign to take Okinawa, you can make a poetry of corpses (and near-corpses) without swerving from the cause of realism. (The controlled chaos of battle, however, is another matter.) Star Andew Garfield’s slight frame holds up remarkably well under the weight of scorn, abuse, misunderstanding, judgment, and oh yes, bodies. (2016) — Matthew Lickona
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