The Daunting Strangeness of Vince Vaughn

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The foley artist on “Hacksaw Ridge” really made his money. With all of the vociferous explosions and bullet clanging in the blood specked WWII opus, this guy probably looked like a blackjack dealer at the soundboard. The Mel Gibson directed film saw it’s fair share of guttural baying, but there wasn’t even one Wilhelm scream. Eat your heart out, tank-movie-with-Shia-LaBeouf-from-2014.

“Hacksaw Ridge” didn’t make my top ten list when it came to my favorite films of the year, but there was one scene in the shrapnel splayed movie that found itself atop the pile of flaming pallets in my mind – and that’s saying something. This moment had to contend with a warpaint dotted Imogen Poots in “Green Room.” Character actor Michael Rapaport playing an ebullient bartender in “Sully” (the role he was placed on earth for. He can now waltz into the sunset with a warm holster and a Texas-sized grin). This bizarrely affecting moment in “Hacksaw Ridge” even usurped Isabelle Huppert’s self-effacing and sardonic chuckle in “Things to Come.” At the tail-end of Gibson’s World War II picture, one whose primary narrative is carnage and chorus, you see a maimed Vince Vaughn nesting in a pile of rubble. The actor is writhing in pain, wincing and grimacing to the best of his abilities. That’s when Andrew Garfield, star of “Hacksaw Ridge” and Jim Sturgess body double, begins to pull a supine and wounded Vaughn on an army blanket across a war marred battlefield.

Okay.

Now picture Vaughn cradling a machine gun in an undersized military helmet and bullet scorched uniform while gritting his teeth. Imagine him firing off dozens of rounds while being dragged on a blanket for 50 yards. Not even 1996 Barry Sanders could dip-and-dodge 50 yards, while mobile, in that kind of danger. This weird scene became branded into my mind.

How did this goddamn guy not fall off the blanket? How did they cross over mounds of strewn guts, splintered rifles, and fragmented debris without hitting one bump? Why did Mel Gibson turn Vince Vaughn into Sgt. Rock in what was supposed to have been an emotional, molar masticating, true story? This was chilling. More chilling than Amanda Knox looking at a rack of magazines. More chilling than the EC Comics-like eyeball resolve in “The Neon Demon.” More affecting than Aaron Taylor-Johnson playing Emile Hirsch playing Billy Crudup in “Nocturnal Animals.” How did this happen? After Vaughn pushed all of his chips into the grand canyon in True Detective season 2, the dude decided to jump in, right after them, with “Hacksaw Ridge.” There’s no reason this scene should have happened. This is an action scene that would have been cut from “Pineapple Express,” and yet it pops in the finale of an award bait Gibson film. Even San Diego CityBeat film critic Glenn Heath Jr. was shocked by the directorial choice, saying, “that part wasn’t very good.” And yet here it is at the beginning of 2017, and it’s all I can think about.

PS:

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Author: Rob Patrick

A member of the San Diego Film Critics Society, Rob created Cinema Spartan after he stepped down as the editor of a weekly. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. He has also introduced films with the Pacific Arts Movement. He co-owns two dire wolves, Buckley and Ruffin. At any given time, he can tell you superfluous hockey statistics. He is the chancellor of Tapatio, an advocate of iced tea, and an owner of at least 70 pairs of Vans.

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