Civil War (2024)

1h 49m / R / Action, War

What kind of American are you?

In the near future, unlikely allies Texas and California join forces against a corrupt three-term president (Nick Offerman) who has disbanded the FBI, used military force against American citizens, and renounced the United States’ allegiance to the Constitution. And as other states start to choose sides, the perilously divided country plunges into a civil war.

The top-grossing film in America its opening weekend, Civil War is the newest film from writer/director Alex Garland (Ex Machina, 28 Days Later) and indy production powerhouse A24 in what could be considered their first foray into action blockbusters. It stars Kirsten Dunst as Lee, a photojournalist on the front lines who is headed to Washington DC with three other war correspondents in hopes of interviewing the president and documenting the rapidly escalating conflict.

It would be easy – having only watched the trailer or read a few early reviews – to try to pigeonhole Civil War as obtuse commentary, intentionally on-the-nose for our current, contentious political climate in the run-up to the election. But, as Matt Zoller Seitz wrote for, “If you had to make a list of what Civil War is trying to do, ‘diagnosing what ails the United States of America’ might not crack the Top 5.”

Instead, Civil War is intellectual exercise: a challenging film that is clear-eyed on the horrors of war, the importance of journalism in times of conflict, and about how easily we become desensitized to violence when we’re living through it.