Like me, you probably saw the trailers for Civil War and thought it looked interesting. I just caught it on streaming. What did I think? Overall, it’s a great idea but fails in the execution. I will have to dip into spoilers, but I will tag them.

Civil War stars Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura, Cailee Spaeny, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Nelson Lee, Jefferson White and Nick Offerman. It’s the newest movie from Alex Garland. I find Garland hit-and-miss with his writing. He’s credited for movies like Sunshine, Ex Machina, and Dredd. He also wrote Annihilation and Men, both movies I like, but the stories are very pretentious.

The story for Civil War is thus:

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.

Here lies the first problem. There is no mention of why there is a civil war, you never find out what they are fighting about, who you could perceive are the good guys or bad guys. If the first American Civil War was fought, predominantly, about slavery then you can pick a side.

I had no idea who was fighting for what in this Civil War. We follow a press team, trying to get to the President to hopefully get an interview. Along the way, they meet factions of America fighting for, or against, the President. Why? Don’t know.

This was a bit of an issue for me, I’m fine going along with the group, but when they run into certain groups or factions, I had no vested interest, because I had no idea who was fighting for what.

Civil-War

The Ending *spoilers*

The end of the movie sees one side trying to get to the President to kill him. Why? Don’t know. As the forces draw in, Lee (Dunst) and Jessie (Spaeny) are taking photos as war correspondents. The overall attack on the White House was pretty good, full of special forces and fine gunplay.

The first problem is that Lee saves Jessie from getting shot. This was done really stupidly to the point where Jessie was able to take photos of Lee getting shot. Lee was wearing body armour and, I’m no expert, but seems like she would have been OK if only Jessie checked.

When Jessie, in her terrifying panic, starts to take photos of her “dying”, it made me laugh, as it seemed ridiculous to me. Then to have her just walk off and leave her mentor, even more ridiculous.

Then they kill the President, the end. Very anticlimactical.

Devil Is In The Detail

I’m going to be a picky sod again, but there are things that really annoyed me about the details in this.

Civil War is set around today, at least, a little in the future. Why the fudge cake was Jesse shooting on 35mm film? Digital cameras can hold literally millions of photos, but she has an old-school film camera. I think there is a mention it belonged to her father or something, but still. How hard is it to get 35mm film these days? Let alone in the middle of a civil war.

Also, why not use a video camera? I do a lot of video work these days, and most of the time, if I need a photo, I can screen grab it. Pointing an old camera, trying to focus it, take a photo, while being shot at seems bloody stupid to me. Video it and get stills later, let a digital camera do all the work.

Civil-War

Another thing was how close the press were allowed to get. Again, I’m no expert, but I would have thought having a couple of people there, taking photos of you while you’re fighting for your life gets pretty annoying.

There are moments where guys are having a huge gunfight, bullets and shrapnel flying everywhere, and there are two chicks getting photos.

“OK darlings, more energy, I want to see the tiger in you! SWEETHEART, you, over there shooting. Could you hold off for a second while we do some hair and makeup? Thank you sweetie!”

Maybe it was just me, I mean, I know people have to report on wars but get out of the way with the guys with guns. It’s bad enough that someone is shooting at them and then they have to babysit as well?

Overall

Civil War is a great movie on paper, but the execution is not good. The fighting, the photography, and the plight of war are all done very well. I liked how it was about the journey, not the destination, but the cast of characters just weren’t that interesting.

Lee is kind of a bitch. OK, I get how she’s a battle-hardened war correspondent, but there was nothing likeable about her. Jessie was way too young to bring along for the ride.

This is going to sound mean, but Joel (Moura) had a Pedro Pascal moustache. Every time I saw him I just kept thinking he looked like Pascal if you ordered him from Wish.com. Other characters do pop up, die and/or leave, so there wasn’t much to say about them.

The Poor-Man's Pedro Pascal

The Poor-Man’s Pedro Pascal

 

In the trailer, there is a moment with Jesse Plemons and he is great at being a bad guy. The scene with him is really good, but then it tails out. A shame.

I’m going to give Civil War a generous 2.5 out of 5. There are good moments, but overall I didn’t feel satisfied with the whole movie. It’s now on streaming rental.

Stars_2.5


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