Is Hacksaw Ridge a film? A state of mind? An ouch-y place to visit? These are all questions we could go a lifetime without answering, but because it has been nominated for six Oscars — including Best Picture and Best Director for Mel Gibson — MTV News attempts to answer what, exactly, Hacksaw Ridge is. Really, there’s no other way to know.
Hazel Cills: A fake TV show that Jenna Maroney was in on 30 Rock.
Teo Bugbee: Hacksaw Ridge, Mel Gibson's World War II movie, focuses on the struggle over a large garden wall in Germany called Hacksaw Ridge. On top of the garden wall are the Nazis that the Americans need to murder, but the Americans have no climbing contraptions and so they are continually shot down until they develop an elaborate vine-rope system that enables their speedy ascent. The “homosexuals,” “wetbacks,” and “Jews” die in the first waves of the conflict, but eventually the heroic gentiles climb the garden wall. Many explosions. Andrew Garfield cries a lot.
Inkoo Kang: Since Hacksaw Ridge is directed by Mel Gibson, I assume it takes place in a World War II battlefield with blood and fingers and eyeballs and intestines flying all over the place. So I’m gonna pretend instead that it’s about Andrew Garfield going mano a ’tato against the world’s gnarliest chip. Garfield’s doobed-up twentysomething opens up a bag of Ruffles — just trying to live his best life, dude — to find a determined chip that’s cut himself into just spikes so he won’t be eaten like his brothers. It’s teeth against fried shiv. Think Sausage Party, but actually fun.
Brian Phillips: Retired trucker and former Green Beret Axel Hacksaw Kennesaw is living a quiet life in the remote wilds of Georgia’s Old Glory Mountains. But when a wounded eagle crashes through the rice-paper wall of his self-built kendo dojo with a ransom note taped to its leg, it’s time for Hacksaw to take up arms one last time against the methadone traffickers who have kidnapped his best friend, Little Joe (Christopher Plummer). Sometimes a sword is more than just ceremonial. Hacksaw Ridge: real soldiers never stand down.
Rachel Handler: Wartime in America. The time period and the enemy are irrelevant; we are always at war in America, whether with another country or with our own minds. Andrew Garfield is Shack, an American soldier who has been charged with the unenviable task of murdering his best friend, who is on the other side of the war. His best friend, whose name is Jaw, is played by Mel Gibson. Jaw is significantly older, but he knows a lot, and Shack keeps him young so, yes, it makes sense. Also, both are always filthy. Shack and Jaw have a tradition of meeting at night, in secret, on the ridge between their two warring armies. In fact, they first encountered one another on the ridge, because both have a lifelong love of ridges.
Every night, Shack and Jaw sit on the ridge and talk about life. Once, Jaw told Shack about the time he strangled a herd of geese to impress his now-dead wife (the geese were bothering her). It worked, except then she died (of dysentery), and he’s never been the same. He has a beard now. Shack cried and they put their arms over each other’s backs and patted twice. Another time, Shack told Jaw about how his father never hugged him, not even when he went off to war. Jaw hugged Shack silently, and Shack knew he could never murder Jaw.
The next day is the big battle. Shack’s army general is like, “So, don’t forget, you have to murder Jaw today.” Shack nods and picks up his hacksaw. He walks toward Jaw, who is standing with his own hacksaw (this is a hacksaws-only war). Both stare at one another, hacksaws cocked. Without speaking, both turn and walk toward the ridge. The general is like, “????” But one by one, the other men begin smiling underneath their war helmets. Each pick up a hacksaw and follow Shack and Jaw toward the ridge.
Now everybody is standing on the ridge with their hacksaws. Shack looks at Jaw. Simultaneously, both dig their hacksaws into the ridge. Every soldier follows suit. The ridge is now full of at least a thousand hacksaws, but, because it was fragile to begin with, begins to crumble. Everybody falls to their deaths. But the important thing is, first they had peace. And that’s why they call it Hacksaw Ridge. Never forget!
Meredith Graves: Hacksaw Ridge ... [rolls dice] ... is a historical thriller directed by Harmony Korine. It stars Joaquin Phoenix (because he had a big beard in that fake documentary where he pretended to be a rapper) as a man who departs from his monotonous existence as the front-person of an Iron & Wine cover band to go on a journey of self-discovery in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Tragedy strikes when an avalanche brought on by his incessant yodeling causes a boulder to roll on top of him, crushing his leg and forcing him to acknowledge that he underestimated the importance of campsite nomenclature when choosing to pitch a tent at Hacksaw Ridge. A bold and bone-chilling take on the importance of medicinal marijuana for pain management.
Jaime Fuller: A film about Mel Gibson’s tomahawk-wielding character from The Patriot, except now he has a hacksaw and is on a ridge.
Is Hacksaw Ridge a film about the way Ruffles potato chips absolutely destroy the roof of your mouth (or Andrew Garfield’s mouth) with their ridged corrugations? This is my query for you, Academy.
Erica Futterman: Hacksaw Ridge is like Julie and Julia. It’s about Andrew Garfield’s character leaving a high-paying finance job to enter The Great British Bake Off, which is a challenge, considering he’s never baked a day in his life. But he’s ready to take a look in the mirror and make that change. There’s a great montage of him repeatedly filling his apartment up with smoke as he tries to master the basics of baking. But the ultimate challenge comes when he’s asked to create a scale replica of Mount Everest as a cake.