‘Civil War’ MOVIE REVIEW: A Tense, Troubling Experience


[Watch our review above or read it below!]

Civil War is a tense, troubling experience – as it should be. Ex Machina and Annihilation filmmaker Alex Garland envisions what it could be like if the USA completely falls apart and descends into another large-scale internal conflict. It is, of course, a terrifying and terrifyingly timely prospect, which is one of Garland’s primary points.

On a basic level, it is a war film, and as such offers familiar discussions – war is hell, humanity is lost, there are no winners, innocence often pays the price, etc. The narrative itself is quite narrow – it’s essentially a post-apocalyptic road trip movie – although the scenario itself and Garland’s screenplay do offer up food for thought with certain lines of dialogue and how some sequences play out.

There’s a focus on journalism – the passion and guts needed to be a war photographer, in particular – and the importance of capturing and sharing the facts without an agenda.

Garland’s direction is, unsurprisingly, a stand-out element, as is the cinematography by Rob Hardy. The visuals are stunning, the action kinetic and clear, the set-pieces tight and nerve-wracking (that scene with Jesse Plemons… yeesh). It’s well-crafted cinema. Plus, solid performances from a solid cast – great turns from Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura, and Cailee Spaeney.

I’ll admit that I was expecting Garland to delve further into the issues that the film touches on – such as the American divide (political, social, racial, or other) that can lead to this bloodshed – but I was ultimately left impressed and somewhat depressed by the overall experience.