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Civil War(2024)(Review)

Director Alex Garland has put out many smash-hits over the years. Serving originally as a writer for films like “28 Days Later”, “Sunshine”, and “The Beach”, but over the last decade he’s also directed some big pieces such as “Annihilation”, “Men”, and “Ex Machina”. With a heavy heart, he’s hinted that his newest piece, “Civil War” is his last directorial effort for now – and what a way to go out.

“Civil War” tells a story of a modern-day civil war taking place across America. The two opposing sides are not extremely apparent, but it’s easy to see that the nation is literally divided and spiraling into Hell. The military operates as its own unit, the president is pissing everybody off, and civilians are basically left to be in survival or fight mode. It’s a dystopian apocalyptic wasteland that A24 brings to the screen with what is reportedly their most expensive effort.

Kirsten Dunst stars as Lee, a war photographer who already has a reputation for her works. Her and her reporting partner Joel have decided to chase the ultimate project during this time – an interview with the president at the White House. We essentially are given a road movie where these two are accompanied by long-time collaborating friend, an elderly man named Sammy, and a fresh-faced rookie named Jessie. As they traverse the land, they encounter scenes of devastation, hysteria, and violence.

What makes this movie play out in a unique way is the established rules of the war. Essentially, anyone wearing a ‘PRESS’ badge is granted immunity from the war itself. They are not invincible by any means, but they are usually not targeted by either sides. The danger is still very real as they close in on scenes of shootouts and bombings, but for the most part they are okay to observe.

The film itself feels like either the final chapter of ‘The Purge’ universe, or a contemporary remake of ‘The Crazies’. A lawless society allows people to hang others in public, bomb civilian crowds, and so much more. The soundscape and cinematography of this film match Garland’s previous efforts and make this film truly immersive and beautiful.

As a whole, the film works really well. I liked the characters, the reasons for the journey felt realistic, and the violence wasn’t overplayed like you may imagine. The only two things I would say faring against it would be that the ending does feel like a bit of a blue-balls scenario where there is a lot of build up that ultimately doesn’t feel paid off, and it also features a lot of scenes that us horror fans are already expecting. It probably plays better for a crowd that isn’t familiar with the tropes, but it still works.

I absolutely loved this film and seeing it in theaters was a rewarding experience. I rank it as my 2nd or 3rd favorite of his (fighting with ‘Men’ for the opposite spot), and strongly recommend it. It’s A24’s biggest budget yet, and you can easily see why when you see the practical effects, the large military scenes near the last third of the film, and all the extras who were necessary to make the world feel inhabited.

“Civil War” is currently playing in theaters.

‘Til Next Time,
Mike Cleopatra

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