“Civil War” (2024)

 “Civil War” (2024)

By Lucas Battista

(Starring Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura, Cailee Spaeny, Nick Offerman, Jefferson White)

“Civil War” is deceitful, coaxing us into a seemingly mild adventure as we follow a party of war correspondents into the heart of a near-future, fractured and war-stricken United States. What makes the film absolutely ingenious is that despite all the dumb preconceived notions we might have walking into the theater, already injecting our politics into the movie, expecting to see goofy Man in the High Castle-esque American iconography twisted upside down, we, as the audience, are immediately punished for this. We are dragged from our seats and made to see the tacit reality of war — the movie’s entire narrative — and that there are no sides to it. As its really simple title suggests, this movie is at no point about what comes before or after, but what happens during a war. We are given almost no glimpse into what catalyzed this conflict, what this future America was like at peacetime, what factions there really are or why they may fight or defend Nick Offerman’s character, besides from him being a drab and vague American despot. That’s not to say it doesn’t at times anchor us back to Earth, to remind us that America isn’t absolved of violence or war in our own backyard. It’s simply depicted in such a way that, with infinite tact, “Civil War” is wiped clean of any potential agenda outside of the real, terrifying material ramifications of war itself. Despite all this praise, the characters it gives us are admittedly weak in depth and have really stunted developmental arcs, against a really solid cast and a fantastic performance in particular from Kirsten Dunst, who plays a jaded and numb war photographer. I have to say, as well, it’s not really gory ‑ I’ve seen plenty of movies far greater in breadth and terror when it comes to war, this is no “Come and See” (1985). For this very reason though, it does a fantastic job. Right as there is a minor lapse in its anxious atmosphere, where the characters seem to have escaped their awful reality, just as quickly do they return to it, and it doesn’t seek to shock or offend by gore or something cheap. Plus seeing it in IMAX will really make you jump, it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. “Civil War” is all around a fantastic start to 2024. I hope its narrative sinks deep, that it quashes some of the alarmism and drumbeating for an imminent Second American Civil War, and audiences, primarily us Americans, are given a wake-up call.


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