‘Civil War’ Review – SPOILER FREE

As of late, I feel like my existential dread meter has been quite low. Fear of societal collapse truly is the spice of life. Can you really enjoy a good time without, what my therapist calls, a “slighty irrational” fear of the world ending? ‘Civil War’, while slightly being able to fill that void for me, wasn’t actually what I was expected. In some ways that’s a good and in other ways it’s not.

Alex Garland’s ‘Civil War’ is his follow up to 2022’s mind-boggling, squirm-in-your-seat, gloom-fest ‘Men’. Once again, Garland showcases his mastery of making his audiences uncomfortable for 90 minutes. Now, ‘Civil War’ doesn’t include a gruesome 5-minute sequence of dying “man” giving birth to other dying “men” (sorry for the spoilers but if you haven’t seen ‘Men’ at this point you’re not going to). It’s discomfort resonates from the extremely realistic depiction of front-line war violence.

‘Civil War’ is a visceral and immersive war film. It echoes shades of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and ‘Full Metal Jacket’ in a very unique but somewhat unengaging manner. Although it avoids taking a preachy and polarizing tone on modern society (although not completely void of social commentary), ‘it ‘Civil War’ can’t really decide on what it’s identity is.

#DunstDudes–Where You At?

I’m now officially accepting membership into my Kirsten Dunst fan club. The Dunst-Dudes. Being a “dude” is not a requirement–I just have a thing for strong consonants and alliteration. If my theory is correct, you can expect #DunstDudes to be trending on Twitter as hard as Conan O’Brien on Hot Ones was this weekend.

Performances are truly the high-point of ‘Civil War’; starting with our aforementioned Kirsten leading the charge. She’s taken the roughly 30 years of Hollywood B.S. she’s dealt with and created a character who is absolutely calloused to the world and war around her. She truly is the heart and soul of ‘Civil War’ but that’s not to say she isn’t also complimented by a tremendous supporting cast.

Wagner Moura seems to be at the beginning of having a “moment” in Hollywood and has Pedro Pascal-esque charisma and charm. He’s a wildcard in the best sense throughout the film.

Speaking of having a moment, Cailee Spaeny much? Between this, ‘Priscilla’ and the upcoming ‘Alien: Romulus’, she is about to become a household name. And finally, is any movie ever made worse when Stephen McKinley Henderson shows up? No. The answer is no.

S#!t’s Loud.

‘Civil War’ is a film that benefits from being seen in a theater. Alex Garland use of sound, and to a large degree music, magnifies the visceral nature of being embedded in the front-lines of war. The final 15 minute sequence feels genuine due to the how intense the sound pumps through the speakers. I can’t imagine watching this at home and it having the same effect.

Alex Garland, without diving too deeply into exposition or backstory, uses technical aspects to raise the stakes of the film. We may not really understand the who, what, and why of things, but we feel the gravity of warfare simply by how the film is shot and turning the volume up to 11.

The tragedy of ‘Civil War’

While I can honestly sit here and say that ‘Civil War’ is thought provoking and an overall positive experience, it’s true downfall is that it really doesn’t know what type of movie it wants to be. It’s stuck somewhere between a cautionary tale for modern America and a compelling story about war journalists. While this does help to not drag the audience into a morality play which causes us to choose sides, it doesn’t do itself any favors in establishing a firm identity.


Although it has it’s high-moments with outstanding performances from it’s cast and technical prowess from it’s director, ‘Civil War’ is a movie that doesn’t really have a firm identity. This lack of a truly compelling story keeps it out of the upper-echelon of war movies even though it strives to be there.

3.5/5 Swedish Fish

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Kenny lives in Austin, TX and is one of the co-hosts of the CineBoiz Podcast. When he isn’t talking about or watching movies he can be found kicking it with Mickie the Dog and re-watching the Kansas City Chiefs win Super Bowl 54 for the 25th time.