Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon MOVIES: Civil War - Review

SpoilerTV - TV Spoilers

MOVIES: Civil War - Review

Share on Reddit

Civil War is a movie that arrives with a lot of talk. An America divided; a president that has ruled for a third term having disbanded the FBI. Multiple states have formed alliances against the United States – and into this mess, we’re introduced to Kristen Dunst’s Lee – a leader of a group of war journalists, who have just arrived to witness a bloody suicide bombing where an American flag-wielding attacker decimates an aid truck. It’s chilling. It calls to mind so many memories – especially in the wake of January 6, for Americans – yet this film is not concerned with the politics of why. It is concerned with the actions of those that do. What do people do when times of great change are presented to them? Garland’s film acts as a love-letter to these journalists, war-journalists – who find themselves on a mission deep into enemy territory on a mission that should get them what they are looking for: an interview with the President himself.

The film assembles a collection of experienced and unexperienced photojournalists alike; and we get the classic mentor/apprentice dynamic that unfolds as hard-boiled, takes-no-shits Lee takes Jessie, a newbie under her wing. Cailee Spaeny becomes the main character as the film progresses from a kind of Ripley in Alien type deal – originally starting as an ensemble piece but it’s clear Jessie is the focus by the third act. Spaeny eats up this role dealing with the trauma of someone shaken by their first encounter; a real contrast from the pumped up, thirsting for danger Joel (Wagner Moura).

The hotshot group finds themselves caught in America’s conflict that divides nicely between the United States and the Texan/California Western Front alliance – the President has used drone strikes on his own citizens, and we later find out, atrocities are being committed by both sides as military engages in open conflict in rural and suburban areas without much of a need for the traditional respect of war. Despite the propaganda briefings of the President the Western Front are advancing on Washington though – and that’s where Lee and her gang, tagging with her a mentor Sammy (Stephen McKinley Henderson), are headed. But at what cost their journey?

It’s a road movie – we get to see how different parts of America are dealing with the crisis, both Jessie and Lee’s parents are choosing to pretend that the war never happened and they soon stumble across as small town continuing as normal, pre-civil war. Yet in the same arena of conflict, there’s a stadium that has been turned into a home for tents and salvage. The internet is no longer active it seems, and cell phone service is almost gone. Yes there is signal but not on a mass scale and there are constant intermissions. It’s a wasteland out there – the world-building does enough to thrust you in the moment but doesn’t explain the how or why – yet Alex Garland does not need to. For a film that is supposedly his last it’s a radical shift from Men and his work on the FX series Devs, but the master of the high concept delivers a fairly bold take that’s caused quite some degree of controversy – a chilling scene with Jesse Plemons’ soldier asks “what kind of American are you?” to our group of captured journalists – and when Civil War sings, it really sings, with nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat tension. Garland's vision of a post-apocalyptic America comes through when we get a soundtrack punctuated by music from Silver Apples, in addition to multiple tracks by Suicide, De La Soul and Sturgill Simpson - a really well curated peice that brings to life the dystopian hellscape that we spend a hundred and nine minutes in.

There’s no real ideological reasoning behind the divide of both nations – the film isn’t interested with exploring much of the reasonings behind why the United States split. It feels like a sort of quasi-alternate history and it would be fascinating to learn more about why. Yet there is no point in wondering what the film doesn’t give us and instead accepting it for what it is – a movie that pays tribute to journalists caught in the conflict doing their best to show it to the public – putting their lives on the line to do so in a world that is questioning their relevance, and asking at what cost their sanity comes to. When looked through that lense and not the movie that you want it to be - it's a triumph.

Sign Up for the SpoilerTV Newsletter where we talk all things TV!


SpoilerTV Available Ad-Free!

Support SpoilerTV is now available ad-free to for all subscribers. Thank you for considering becoming a SpoilerTV premmium member!
Latest News