Civil War (English) Review {3.0/5} & Review Rating

Star Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Cailee Spaeny, Wagner Moura, Stephen McKinley Henderson

Movie Review: CIVIL WAR is an engaging dystopian flick, which rests on a powerful story and performances

Director: Alex Garland

Civil War Movie Synopsis:
CIVIL WAR is the story of a group of journalists in a war zone. In the near future, a civil war erupts between an authoritarian United States government, headed by a dictatorial President (Nick Offerman) and various secessionist movements like Western Forces, Florida Alliance, New People’s Army etc. Renowned war photographer Lee Smith (Kirsten Dunst) is in New York covering the events of the war. She and his colleague Joel (Wagner Moura) plan to go to Washington DC to interview the President before the Western Forces take over the city. They are joined by veteran war journalist and mentor Sammy (Stephen McKinley Henderson) and a 23-year-old aspiring photojournalist Jessie Cullen (Cailee Spaeny). Lee had saved Jessie’s life during a protest in New York. Lee is not in favour of Jessie joining them but Joel insists on taking her after she charms him. The 600-mile-plus journey begins. On the way, they encounter several challenges and also dangers. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

Civil War Movie Story Review:
Alex Garland’s story is incredible and imaginative. Alex Garland’s screenplay is a bit dry at places but overall, it is peppered with several engaging and nail-biting moments. The dialogues are fine. Sadly, in the absence of subtitles and too much noise in the film, a few one-liners are difficult to decipher. It is sad that when most studios in the country are releasing Hollywood films with English subtitles, PVR Pictures refuses to follow suit.

Alex Garland’s direction is great. He has a winning plot in hand but that’s half the battle won. One needs to do justice so that the desired impact is made. In this regard, Alex succeeds. He chooses to focus on the war journalists and that brings a nice touch. It’s fascinating to see the life that these people live. While depicting their tale, the director also makes an important comment on morality and how an award-winning image takes precedence over everything. The first half has some interesting moments but the best is reserved for the second half. The kidnapping scene by the militant (Jesse Plemons) is nail-biting. The climax is very gripping and the film ends on an astonishing note.

On the flipside, the makers don’t provide any backstory as to how the civil war broke out. One also doesn’t get to know properly about the various secessionist movements and who is heading them. Similarly, no information is given about the dictatorial decisions and working style of the President that led to the madness. Hence, in the end, it becomes difficult to understand which side is correct. Maybe, that wasn’t the idea of the makers. Yet, a little background would have been of great help.

Civil War Movie Performances:
Kirsten Dunst delivers one of the finest performances of his career. She doesn’t go overboard and is natural while playing a celebrated journalist struggling with PTSD. Cailee Spaeny is a great find and plays a well-written character with panache. Wagner Moura is impressive while Stephen McKinley Henderson shines. Nick Offerman is hardly there but suits the part to the T. Jesse Plemons is damn good in a cameo. Nelson Lee (Tony) and Evan Lai (Bohai) are decent.

Civil War music and other technical aspects:
Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow’s background score is minimal yet impactful. Rob Hardy’s cinematography is very captivating. One gets the feeling that one is in the midst of the firing between the forces. Special mention should also go to the sound design team which adds to the tension and realism. The action is very gory. Jake Roberts’ editing is slick. The way he has intercut the cross-firing scenes with the black-and-white photographs enhances the appeal.

Civil War Movie Conclusion:
On the whole, CIVIL WAR is an engaging dystopian flick which rests on a powerful story and performances. At the box office, the awareness is limited but the novel plot, positive word of mouth and absence of exciting releases might prove to be an advantage.