Civil War is Unsettling Yet Gripping

Director Alex Garland is known for pushing the envelope and making us feel uncomfortable yet intrigued. Movies such as 28 Days Later and Ex Machina have shown us the dangers of technology and dystopian futures. Still, Civil War might be Garland’s most grounded film while also being his most terrifying. 

In a dystopian future America that feels very much like it is not too far off, a team of journalists is racing against time to Washington D.C. to get there before rebel factions descend upon the white house. 

The Story

Civil War is genius because it isn’t your normal war movie. If you are looking to follow soldiers and have huge explosions constantly then this isn’t for you. This truly is the story of our main journalists and how unbiased they have to be in their jobs. They go on a journey from New York to Washington D.C. to show the world what is going on. They aren’t on a mission to stop the war, or to help anyone. They know something is going down at the White House and they know they have to get there to cover it. 

The movie definitely has explosions and scenes of war, but what it does best to me is its world-building and character-building. The quiet moments are done so well as we get to bond with our characters and learn about them. It helps so much when the intense scenes occur because we care so much more. 

What Really Works

The movie does a good job of not explaining everything to us. Why this war has occurred is not important. What is important is how people have reacted to the war. There are looters, people who murder just because they can. You never know who to trust. 

I sat watching and wondering why this movie had such an effect on me. I realized it was because I didn’t feel safe. What I mean is even though I understood the world in front of me, I didn’t know all the rules. Alex Garland doesn’t want you to pick a side. War is bad. War is wrong. Anyone our characters encounter can be dangerous and not knowing made the tension intensify. 

The journalists are not usually touched by either side. Why? Because everyone thinks they are the good guys. Everyone wants their story told and their picture taken. Once you realize Civil War isn’t the movie you might think it is. Sit back and relax and enjoy the ride. 

The acting and visuals are also excellent.  This is easily one of Kirsten Dunst’s best roles in years. She is a hardened journalist who knows that the job needs to get done but she can’t help but look out for young photographer Jessie played by Cailee Spaeny. Their bond is the glue of the movie and in a film with such dazzling effects and set pieces, they shine through. 

Having said that the effects like I said are very strong. The movie is well shot and just about every shot has something to see. An important message to tell. The movie is almost 2 hours long and flies by with how invested everything about it leaves you. 


Civil War is another phenomenal addition to Garland’s filmography. It is terrifying and thought-provoking. It is a well-shot edge-of-your-seat thriller from beginning to end. This is not your average war movie and that is so welcomed here. We get to see the horrors of war through the eyes of these journalists in a world where there are no sides. There is only a cautionary tale. 

About Martin Maruri

Martin Maruri is an avid fan of pop culture and movie trivia. In his spare time, Martin loves to watch horror movies, watch baseball and spend time with his lovely girlfriend. P.S...He also loves spending time with his French Bulldog named Tobin.

View all posts by Martin Maruri

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