The 21st Century dawned brightly for Mel Gibson.
Basking in the glow of his 5 Academy Award wins for Braveheart he lit up the box office in The Patriot in 2000 and We Were Soldiers in 2002.
By midway point of that first decade in the new millenium things started to become seriously unstuck.
In what should have been a time of celebration for the accomplishment of his Mayan epic Apocalypto, bad luck came in threes in mid 2006 when he was arrested for drink driving, put under intense scrutiny for comments made during his arrest, with the subsequent dissolution of his marriage.
Gibson all but disappeared from view, returning to acting first in Edge of Darkness along with a handful of other films, before, after ten long years, stepping up to direct Hacksaw Ridge.
Based on the incredible true story of Desmond Doss, the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honour, Gibson uses every trick in the book to cram emotion and heart into the first half of the film as he sets up the backstory of Doss.
The son of a World War 1 veteran from Lynchburg Virginia, Doss insisted on serving his country in World War 2, despite his refusal to carry a weapon on religious grounds.
No stranger to military life, Desmond struggles with his spiritual conviction as he longs to join his brother on the frontlines, while his father also proves to be an obstacle to Desmond’s dream of military service.
Desmond helps an injured civilian to hospital where he meets the love of his life Dorothy Schutte played by Teresa Palmer and he knows instantly he has met his match.
The pair embark on a brief courtship before Desmond enlists and commences his arduous journey to the frontlines.
Once Desmond joins the US Army, he faces a relentless assault on his beliefs from all quarters, with his superiors as well as fellow soldiers reluctant to have an unarmed man beside them in battle.
The film kicks off with a brief taste of the carnage to come on the island of Okinawa, where, under constant enemy fire, Doss dragged scores of his wounded comrades to safety, and Gibson invests significant energy in explaining the events that motivated Doss to enlist, in spite of his strict religious beliefs preventing him from carrying a weapon.
Hugo Weaving is excellent as an alcoholic father still reeling from the anguish of serving in WW1, his wife, superbly played by Rachel Griffiths, forced to cope with a disintegrating family, faced with the prospect of losing more of her male family to the horrors of war.
Teresa Palmer shines in her best role yet, as a romantic interest who becomes the bedrock for Doss as he faces firstly a military bureaucracy uninterested in accommodating his religious considerations and then the brutal conflict in the South Pacific.
Every piece of this film is considered and concise, incorporating decades worth of experiences into two hours.
Once the film reaches the battlefield, it steps up a gear becoming one of the most powerful and bloody depictions of what must be the true disaster of armed conflict on the front lines.
It is a well thought out testament to a truly inspirational character who resisted his story being told for decades, and shows that exceptional results can be achieved with conviction, not just in the film’s narrative, but in real life with this return to form for Mel Gibson who has delivered a story for the ages.