'Civil War' review: Is this what's next for America? 2
Jesse Plemons in a scene from 'Civil War'

'Civil War' review: Is this what's next for America?

The most chilling moment was care of an uncredited cameo by Jesse Plemons as a right-wing fanatic.
Fred Hawson | Apr 15 2024

The United States is embroiled in a violent war where the federal government was going against a strong secessionist movement from the states of California and Texas. The lame duck President (Nick Offerman) was still making statements on television that he had things under control, even as violent bombings and civil unrest beset major cities.

Veteran war photographer Lee Smith (Kirsten Dunst), her colleague Joel (Wagner Moura) and mentor Sammy (Stephen McKinley Henderson) drive from New York to Washington DC to interview the embattled US president. Along with them on this ride was Jessie (Cailee Spaeny), an aspiring photojournalist who idolized Lee. 

This epic war drama film was written and directed by Alex Garland. Before his directorial debut with sci-fi film about AI, "Ex-Machina" (2014) that earned for him an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, Garland was first known as the writer of the apocalyptic zombie film that made Cillian Murphy a star -- "28 Days Later" (Danny Boyle, 2002). 

Stars Dunst, Moura, Henderson and Spaeny make a tight ensemble as we joined their perilous road trip and the various stops they made. Dunst played Lee as a grizzled veteran who has reached the point of saturation about war violence. While Henderson's Sammy had the calmness of experience, Spaeny's Jessie had the annoying brashness of youth. The most chilling moment was care of an uncredited cameo by Jesse Plemons as a right-wing fanatic. 

It depicts a fictional situation set in the near future, something which still seems unlikely to happen at this point in time.  We join the story with the civil war already ongoing. Despite the title, the film did not really tell us what led to the secession movement that led to this civil war. While the war was there as the setting of the story, it was not about the war. Garland still made this war look and sound horrific just to push the advocacy that war is needless violence. 

The film only concentrated about telling the story of the road trip taken by four photojournalists to the heart of the war zone to get the scoop they want. Their dedication to their dangerous job may be seen as sheer recklessness and fool-hardiness by regular folk. However, without them, how would the world see the drama and atrocities of these wars? These intrepid souls provide humanity a precious service to document and warn against the stupidity of war. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."