It's common for war films to depict a famous battle or moment from one of the many infamous wars there has been across history. It's quite a statement to make a film that feels as if it could soon become reality, and that's exactly what Alex Garland has done with Civil War, an unflinching and terrifying depiction of a powerhouse country torn apart.

In the near future, a team of journalists travel across the United States during a rapidly-escalating multiparty Second American Civil War that has engulfed the entire nation. The film documents the journalists struggling to survive during a time when the U.S. government has become a dystopian dictatorship and partisan extremist militias regularly commit war crimes. 
Civil War is one of those films that has utilised its marketing very well, posters depicting warzones around famous American landmarks. There's a striking note to them and it soon becomes clear as you're watching Civil War that we are probably not very far off something like this actually happening in America. Riots break out on the streets, if they aren't totally bare, bombs are set off in crowds and gunfire is heard throughout the night as war rages on - for no good reason it seems. Alex Garland doesn't make it abundantly clear what the fighting is for and that's what makes it feel rather poignant, as well as muddled and a little underwritten. A strong start and middle soon descends into a finale that feels as if you're watching someone play the latest Call of Duty, feeling out of place in a film that seems to have made a point of the quieter side of war being just as impactful.

Framing this from the perspective of journalists, particularly a seasoned war photographer and a rookie one looking to make a name for herself, is an inspired move. It's the obvious choice to show war from the eyes of the soldiers but the way Garland presents the film offers a new lens for the audience, moments of terror captured by a camera while brave souls put themselves in danger to make sure the world knows what's happening. There's some really dark moments in the earlier stages of the film, the highlight being an intense sequence featuring Jesse Plemons as a soldier they meet who isn't exactly the most hospitable. It's moments like this that really hit hard in the film, making it even more of a shame that it descends into what it does in its final act. If Garland had carried on with the more intimate moments littered through the first and second act, this had potential to be one of the best of the year. 
Coming to the performances, Civil War is at its strongest, Kirsten Dunst leading the film with a nuanced and grizzled turn as experienced photographer, Lee. Dunst fits the role so well and shows Cailee Spaeny's Jessie the ropes - the pair great together as their paths begin to feel somewhat familiar. Spaeny has made a name for herself recently starring in Priscilla and the naivety she shows here mirrors that shown before in her previous film where she really excelled. Her character's arc is the most fascinating, growing in confidence the further they journey into the warzones, Lee the opposite. It's Jesse Plemons who steals the show though with the one scene he appears in, becoming far too good at playing the psychopath these days.

Dropping you right into a hellish situation from the perspective of war journalists, Civil War is a gripping cinematic experience, for the most part, from Alex Garland. It's just a shame its final act doesn't maintain the quality of the first two.

Verdict: ★★★½


  1. HuraWatch is streaming this title in HD print. You can enjoy twenty plus genres without worrying about any charges.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts