A young soldier from Virginia refuses to kill for religious reasons, but is sent to the front in World War II as a paramedic. Here he goes through hard military drill and is sidelined by his conscience decision, but can finally prove himself in the battle of Okinawa. A true exemplary story of salvation through pacifist heroism, which in Mel Gibson's expert hands can only mean a gloriously paradox movie that pretends to be about the idea of pacifism but twists and turns it till all that's left is a visual orgy of violence and christian hero worship (read: loathsome pathos).
The moral questions contained in the story are undermined in an almost grotesque way by sadistic voyeurism. Gibson is still a top visualist (the gore is impressive) but it's all in aid of showing us either shredded limbs or christian iconography in slow motion. Why he wanted to tell this story remains a secret, as he never seems to find a spiritual connection to the motivation of his hero - whom he sends to a final victorious battle, as if to make sure that we're still in the Mel Gibson business where gory self-sacrifice still is a chief virtue. Detestable.
To wash away the unpleasant taste i turned to a wicked old british horror melodrama with Peter Cushing and Donald Pleasance loosely based on the Burke & Hare case, the two former grave-diggers who murdered at least 16 people in 1828 Edinburgh, Scotland and sold their bodies for anatomical research. With Cushing as unscupulous doctor pushing them to commit more and more grisly murders. Though not a Hammer film it feels similar, with british thespians having a great time (Pleasance in particular) though its denouement feels wildly out of place today: while Burke & Hare are punished with dead for their bloody deeds, Cushing is rehabilitated with his renewed swear upon the Hippocratic oath.