by , USA TODAY6:16 p.m. EDT October 30, 2016

War is hell, even for those who believe in heaven.

The horrors of the World War II battlefront are seen through the eyes of a devout soldier in the stunning military drama Hacksaw Ridge (*** out of four; rated R; opens Wednesday in New York and Los Angeles; in theaters nationwide Friday). Brutally intense and elegantly crafted, the film showcases the stellar acting chops of Andrew Garfield and Vince Vaughn, and it’s director Mel Gibson’s best work behind the scenes since 1995’s Oscar best-picture winner Braveheart.

Hacksaw Ridge does wrestle with overt preachiness and wartime clichés in telling the story of real-life hero Desmond Doss, the first conscientious objector awarded the Medal of Honor. A Seventh-day Adventist who refused to touch a firearm because of his religious beliefs, Doss used his wits, determination and skill as an Army medic to save 75 soldiers during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.

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