Civil War – REVIEW

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Civil War - a look at a near future US?

In the year of a US election where the next elected president will either be a geriatric unable to remember why he lives in the Whitehouse or an orange faced bankrupt sex pest the release of Civil War is remarkably prescient. From writer – director Alex Garland portrays an America deep in the throes of said war with Texas and California unlikely allies against a federal government led by a three term president who regards Syria’s President Assad as a role model  authorizing strikes against his own people. It all feels a little too close for comfort as he prepares to address the nation which is intercut with seemingly real life documentary footage of the country tearing itself apart.

Covering this is legendary yet embittered photo journalist Lee (Kirsten Dunst) accompanied by Joel (Wagner Moura) as she dispassionately captures some horrific imagery. ‘We record so other people ask?’ is how she justifies her work although in modern day terms its likely to be reduced to a meme by feckless influencers looking for likes. But Lee is a role model for aspiring photographer Jessie (Cailee Spaeny)  who’s wholly unprepared for the horrors of war. In a country where there is no new story Lee wants to get what is likely to be the last ever interview with the president whose position is increasingly untenable and unsafe even if he manages to surrender. Taking with them Lee’s own mentor Sammy (Stephen McKinley Henderson) it becomes a 857 mile road movie to get to the Whitehouse with the four of them as a kind of surrogate family unit.

It’s an electrifying journey and ever more dangerous one with armed and trigger happy militia suspicious of anyone they don’t know. One of the films best scenes (and there are many) is when they encounter Jesse Plemons, a smirking softly spoken solider who interrogates the group with their black friend along with a South American and a Chinese immigrant.  It’s an electrifying scene.

Garland has put together a quite brilliant film with an astonishing use of electronic music that pulls you into the action that you should be frightened by rather than excited by. It’s a smart trick for a film that can be interpreted either as a cautionary tale whereas some may see it as an action fest. Truth is its more the former as Garland is too clever a writer for it to be just the latter.

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Here’s the Civil War trailer….

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