Summary: A journey across a dystopian future America, following a team of military-embedded journalists as they race against time to reach DC before rebel factions descend upon the White House.

Year: 2024

Cinema Release Dates:  12th April 2024 (Australia), 11th April 2024 (Thailand), 12th April 2024 (UK), 12th April 2024 (USA)

VOD Release Dates: TBA

Country: USA, UK

Director: Alex Garland

Screenwriter: Alex Garland

Cast: Edmond Donovan (Eddie), Kirsten Dunst (Lee), Juani Feliz (Joy Butler), Stephen McKinley Henderson (Sammy), Greg Hill (Pete), Evan Lai (Bohai), Nelson Lee (Tony), Sonoya Mizuno (Anya), Wagner Moura (Joel), Nick Offerman (President), Jesse Plemons (Soldier), Cailee Spaeny (Jessie), Jefferson White (Dave)

Running Time: 109 minutes

Classification: MA15+ (Australia), 15 (Thailand), 15 (UK), R (USA)


David and Lee Griffiths’s Civil War Review

When it comes to the world of entertainment there is very little that writer/filmmaker Alex Garland hasn’t done. His debut novel, The Beach, which was released back in 1996 focussed on his travels to Thailand and made him an instant hit in the literature world.

The book also garnished the attention of award-winning filmmaker Danny Boyle who turned it into a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. From there Boyle and Garland then teamed up in a screenwriter/director relationship with Garland penning 28 Days Later and Sunshine for Boyle. Then with his screenwriting career becoming a success Garland then found himself in the spotlight with 2012’s Dredd – a film that he had written and then due to some creative differences found himself virtually co-directing.

With Hollywood praising his directing skills Garland then delivered Ex Machina which soon became a cult classic and since then every time Garland has worked on a film it has become something that cinema audiences eagerly anticipate.

Now comes Garland’s latest film Civil War which is perhaps one of the most intelligent films that you are likely to see this year. While the trailers of the film may make it seem like it is an all out action blockbuster, like he did with Sunshine and Dredd, once again Garland has made an action film that will also leave his audience deep in thought.

The film is set in the not too distant future and America is in the middle of a civil war. With the presidency dissolved into a dictatorship under the reign of the current President (Nick Offerman – Origin) various militias and rebel groups have risen up against the US Armed Forces.

With word that a group known as the WF (Western Forces) are about to attack Washington and kill the President world renowned photo-journalist, Lee Smith (Kirsten Dunst – Spider-Man), and journalist, Joel (Wagner Moura – Narcos), decide to travel into the danger zone in an attempt to score what could potentially be the President’s last interview.

Their trip is made even more dangerous by the fact that Joel decides to bring along aging reporter Sammy (Stephen McKinley Henderson – Dune: Part One) and eager young photo-journalist Jessie (Cailee Spaeny – Priscilla) who is eager to learn from her mentor, Lee.

Like the characters at hand the audience are taken on a real journey as Garland explores what a modern day Civil War might leave America looking like. From out of control forest fires through to abandoned and bombed department stores right through to small town militias ready to kill any stranger who strays into their habitat everything is presented to the audience in a way that it almost appears to be a foreboding prediction of what may happen in the future.

Of course Garland is a smart enough writer to make a social commentary on the current US political landscape without actually mentioning any high profile names and even the fact that there are small details like California and Texas aligning to form one part of the resistance shows that this is one screenplay that is not going to reveal its hand in its entirety. The fact that Garland also uses photo-journalists rather than soldiers as the storytellers also adds to the sense that the film is not taking political sides.

What does work here though is the way that Garland has teamed up with cinematographer Rob Hardy (Mission: Impossible – Fallout) to make this film as eerily realistic as possible. Whether it be capturing a burnt out helicopter in a carpark or showing vision of a soldier catching fire it is all delivered onto the screen in such a way that the audience will feel like they are watching television news footage.

Adding to that realism are the performances of the film’s lead. Kirsten Dunst is brilliant as the almost cold-hearted Lee. It takes a certain skill for an actress to be able to deliver a powerful performance while playing a character that shows so little emotion but Dunst does it brilliantly.

She is also well supported by Cailee Spaeny who plays a polar opposite character who wears every emotion on her sleeve. Spaeny’s performance here actually exceeds her recent critically acclaimed performance as Priscilla Presley and the scenes she shares here with Dunst are always dramatic and brilliant.

Wagner Moura is also terrific as the adrenaline junkie Lee but perhaps the most memorable performance aside from Dunst in this film is from her real-life husband Jesse Plemons (The Power Of The Dog) as a homicidal rebel soldier prepared to kill anyone he deems to be un-American.

Civil War is not an easy film to watch. Many of its visuals and themes are graphic and the tension throughout is unrelenting yet this is still a film that needs to be seen in a cinema. This is the kind of film where the audience’s mind is tricked into smelling the smoke and feeling the heat because of its stark realism and as you watch the film you are reminded of what an amazing filmmaker Alex Garland really is.

Lee’s rating Out Of 5

David’s rating Out Of 5

Alex First’s Civil War Review

America is at war with itself, a bloody, take-no-prisoners war.

The President (Nick Offerman) has declared he is on the verge of victory, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Looking to take over is the combined military might of Texas and California.

Covering the conflict are seasoned war photographer Lee (Kirsten Dunst) and journalist Joel (Wagner Moura), who work for Reuters.

The President hasn’t given an interview for 14 months and they are determined to break the drought.

To try to reach him in Washington DC, they need to drive a hazardous, indirect route of nearly 1,400 kilometres and he certainly won’t be rolling out the welcome mat.

Along the way, many untold dangers lurk, but they are all about doing their jobs.

Tagging along are veteran New York Times correspondent Sammy (Stephen McKinley Henderson) and 23-year-old, wet behind the ears, photographer Jessie (Cailee Spaeny).

To the latter, the full horror and heartbreak of war is writ large on the eye-opening journey she is about to undertake.

All are frequently at imminent risk, including from lawless individuals that have lost any sense of humanity.

Among them is a recalcitrant shooter (Jesse Plemons).

Writer and director Alex Garland (Ex Machina) is a master filmmaker who steps it up a notch with the blockbuster Civil War.

It is intense and visceral. It has a lot to say about the civil disobedience in society and where it can lead.

It does so by focusing on the documenters of war and how they go about their business.

The story is disturbingly compelling, enriched by strong performances.

The buildup of the horrors of war is deeply ingrained in Lee. She has covered many. Her world weariness is written all over Kirsten Dunst’s face.

Wagner Moura channels Joel’s gung-ho nature, whose excitement is tempered by the harsh realities that lie ahead.

Cailee Spaeny’s wide eyed innocence is a feature of her role as newbie Jessie.

Stephen McKinley Henderson portrays Sammy as a wily old fox who should have retired, but can’t find it within himself to do so.

Plemons’ characterisation is simply downright evil.

Rob Hardy’s visuals and the soundscape are unforgettable … scarring and seared deeply in my mind.

Garland has used his large canvas admirably. The ugliness … the shock and awe are palpable throughout. The brutality of war is laid bare.

Civil War is rich and redolent and remains seared into my psyche.

Alex’s rating Out Of 5

Average Subculture rating Out Of 5

Other Civil War Reviews

You can read our review that appeared in The Phuket News right here – https://www.thephuketnews.com/thought-provoking-civil-war-simply-gripping-91982.php