Civil War


The new cinematic venture by Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Annihilation, Men) has arrived with the portrayal of the most controversial, ambiguous, and divisive subject matter: a destructive civil war, set amidst a polarizing election campaign. Who would have thought!

Egalitarianism in addressing thorny issues is employed when one does not wish to openly blame a particular side, implying a preference for the other. Garland has been accused of displaying shrewd neutrality on an issue he doesn't explicitly address. Admittedly, if his expressions practically undermine Trumpism—on certain issues that cannot be hidden, not taking a stand is itself a stance.

From the very first shots, Civil War thrusts us into the story without explaining how, when, or why. We know a Trump-like President (Nick Offerman from Parks & Rec) abolished the FBI and somehow secured a third term. California and Texas formed an unusual alliance and seceded from the Confederacy, with Florida following suit. US citizens and applications are affected. As the forces of the Western Alliance head for Washington, so does veteran photojournalist Lee (portrayed excellently by Kirsten Dunst with perhaps the most enigmatic impassive expression I've ever seen), along with three of her colleagues. Their aim is to extract a statement from the President before falling into the hands of the separatists. Along their journey, they encounter all the manifestations of horror, absurdity, and despair not only of civil conflict but of every conflict, yet they simply record without taking a stand or asking questions. "Once you start asking, you can't stop. That's why we don't ask. We record so that others can ask the questions," Lee says at one point to the young reporter in the group, summarizing Garland's vision of egalitarianism through the professional neutrality of photojournalism.

Stripped of overt political polarization, the film is a series of vignettes of horror and violence as the journalists delve deeper into the brutality and absurdity of the civil war. The basic structure is not too different from The Walking Dead, except that in their journey through a chaotic, post-apocalyptic landscape, the survivors of "Civil War" encounter not zombies but equally bloodthirsty militarists from both sides. But is Garland truly completely detached? The President is clearly authoritarian, and in the film's strongest scene (reminiscent of the Bosnian conflict of '92), Jesse Plemons' trigger-happy paramilitary character (Dunst's real-life husband) is evidently a far-right Q-Anon racist, a sadistic, creepy character that will haunt your memory for a long time.

Even as the creator endeavors not to distract the viewer from the central message "war is wrong and brings out the worst in us," it leaves some crevices, acknowledging that some individuals will always be worse than others, and they are the ones who drive us to this point. Because with this logic, there would never be any explanation, revolution, or resistance, simply because "war is bad." Yes, it certainly is, but a) sometimes it's necessary and b) even if you're a soldier, you can still remain human and avoid committing atrocities.

Beyond the viewpoint of political positioning (or lack thereof), Civil War remains an intense, raw, and shocking chronicle that conveys to viewers all the stress, fear, paranoia, and sense of chaos and disorientation experienced by the heroes.

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This is exactly what I'm looking for, not only the drama but the chaos that it must be war within neighbors states, not that I want that in real life but this is a movie so let it be chaos, I was worried it was more about the journalism part of covering war ✌️