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  • Writer's pictureStephen Yanni

Civil War (2024) - Lens of Liberty: Chronicles from a Nation Divided

Rating: ★★★½☆ (3.5/5 Stars)

Released 04-12-2024

Watched 04-13-2024

Reviewed 04-16-2024

Watched in the theater Using Cinemark Movie Club

"Okay. What kind of American are you? You don't know?"

"Civil War," the latest offering from director and writer Alex Garland, presents a gripping and thought-provoking narrative set in a United States that is torn asunder by conflict. Against the backdrop of a rapidly escalating Second American Civil War, Garland weaves a tale of resilience, sacrifice, and the pursuit of truth amidst chaos.

At the heart of the story are Lee Smith, portrayed with grit and determination by Kirsten Dunst, and the aspiring photojournalist Jessie Cullen, brought to life by the talented Cailee Spaeny. Their journey across the fractured landscape of a nation in turmoil serves as the narrative backbone, driving the plot forward with each harrowing encounter and moral quandary they face.

Dunst's portrayal of Lee, a seasoned war photographer with a steely resolve, anchors the film, offering a compelling glimpse into the toll of bearing witness to humanity's darkest moments. Conversely, Spaeny's portrayal of Jessie, a young woman thrust into the crucible of conflict, is a testament to her growth and resilience in the face of adversity.

The ensemble cast, which includes Wagner Moura as Joel and Stephen McKinley Henderson as Sammy, delivers standout performances, breathing life into their respective characters and adding depth to the film's exploration of the human condition amidst war.

One of the film's notable strengths lies in its unflinching portrayal of the horrors of war, from the visceral combat scenes to the moral ambiguity of journalistic ethics in the midst of violence. Garland masterfully captures the chaos and uncertainty of conflict, immersing the audience in a world where every decision carries weight and consequences.

However, "Civil War" is not without its flaws. The decision to depict an alliance between California and Texas as the Western Alliance may strain credibility for some viewers, given the significant political disparities between the two states. While this narrative choice may detract from the film's overall plausibility, it does little to diminish the impact of its central themes.

Ultimately, "Civil War" succeeds as a powerful exploration of the human cost of conflict and the role of journalism in holding power to account. Despite its occasional missteps, the film offers a compelling and timely reflection on the fragility of democracy and the enduring power of the human spirit in the face of adversity. With its stellar performances, gripping narrative, and thematic depth, "Civil War" stands as a worthy addition to the dystopian genre, leaving a lasting impression on audiences long after the credits roll.


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