In a movie that largely sidesteps what the war is about, “Civil War” puts us in the point of view of journalists who make it clear there are no heroes in war, just dead bodies.

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Plot Summary

For reasons barely touched upon, the United States is no longer united and is in a bitter civil war. Texas and California’s alliance is creating major issues, Florida is trying to recruit the Carolinas, and a notable part of the Midwest wants no part of the war and lives life as if DC isn’t being converged on.

But “Civil War” isn’t about the players of the war and why they are fighting, but a war photographer named Lee, her partner Joel, who does interviews, a kid named Jessie who idolizes Lee and joins the team, and a veteran news writer named Sammy who initially was hitching a ride. All four go from New York City to Washington DC, expecting the fall of the President and wanting to be on the ground when it happens, but being on the ground and being in the ground is a distinction that should have been made.

Content Information

  • Dialog: Cursing
  • Violence: Gun Violence, Blood, Torture, Self-Harm
  • Sexual Content: Nudity (Implied)
  • Miscellaneous: Depiction of Corpses, Body Horror, Drinking, Drug Use, Vomiting, Smoking

Characters and Cast Members

The President Nick Offerman
Lee Kirsten Dunst
Joel Wagner Moura
Jessie Cailee Spaeny
Sammy Stephen McKinley Henderson

Character Description(s)

The President

With somehow gaining a third term, painting the media as enemies of the State, and who knows what else, The President triggered a civil war that led to immense brutality as bombs were dropped on civilians and The President pushed for victory by nearly any means necessary.


A renowned journalist since their college photo showing the Antifa Massacre, the Reuters photographer Lee is a legend in the industry. However, with seeing so much war has come her hardening herself a bit and dedicating her life to the work, seemingly in hopes that, in depicting what war really is, she would one day have to change careers.

  • The actor is also known for their role in “The Beguiled.”


Joel is Lee’s right hand who also works for Reuters and desires to interview people. In “Civil War” specifically, he wants to go to DC with Lee and interview the President.


Like Lee, Jessie is from the mid-west, but while Lee is from Colorado, Jessie is from Missouri. But, following in Lee’s footsteps, she wants to go from a young woman who has the opportunity to hide out on the family farm to depicting the horrors of war using their camera and getting those images to the masses.

  • The actor is also known for their role in “How It Ends.”


A veteran who writes for the New York Times, Sammy is in his final years of chasing stories, considering he moves with a cane and can’t necessarily keep up with the young bucks anymore.


Our Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)

Good If You Like

  • War movies, but not from a soldier or politician’s perspective

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Notable Performances or Moments

In IMAX, You’re Reminded How Bullets Are Weapons Of Death

With the overwhelming majority of films having guns in them, it is easy to get used to the sounds of bullets flying, people falling over, and even blood. However, “Civil War” takes the idea of being a war movie seriously, so bullets are given the type of volume and oomph that will startle you, and remind you that if someone points a gun at you, if bullets are flying around, you are in a position where your mortality is in question.

But, what really pushes “Civil War” over is the reminder that bullets don’t discriminate, and in war, neither do people fighting for a cause. If you are within someone’s sights and have no sign of being on their side, you are an assumed enemy and will be handled as such. When it comes to killing characters, again, “Civil War” makes it clear that no one is safe, and there is no hero with a Rambo-like ability to absorb bullets. If you are shot, you may get the opportunity to see a medic, but more than likely, that means you will be dead.


An Appreciation For War Journalist

Between Lee and Jessie and the shots we see them take, you are reminded that anyone who complicates the winners telling the story deserves praise. The brutality of war shouldn’t be easy to justify because it was either you or them. The things common people do to prove their loyalty or because there is no one to enforce law and order can’t be taken as exceptions. War allows many to do the absolute worst, and only if they are caught can they be brought to justice, shamed, or become a symbol of why war should always be seen as a last resort.

And damn if there aren’t moments, especially as Jessie becomes aggressive in her shooting and Lee holds back for the perfect shot while struggling with trauma, that pushes you to remember that photography is an underappreciated art form.

On The Fence

Seemingly Sidestepping All You’d Want To Know About The War

The only thing really made clear in “Civil War” is that the President is pompous and the type you can imagine people preferring to kill than take prisoner. However, while there are hints as to why there was a civil war, like the President somehow gaining a third term, turning against the press, and things that push he tried to become an autocrat, why did Florida, Texas, and California break off isn’t explained. Why Texas and California joined forces, unless I missed something, isn’t dove into. All you know is that America is collapsing, not all States are participating or seemingly care if you live in the Midwest, and the endgame is the fall of the White House and the end of the President’s term.

As for whether any of the separatist states would rejoin the union after or stay separate, it isn’t touched upon nor any of the politics that, in 2024 America, you’d be interested to hear.

The Performances

We’re very torn about the way some characters are performed, mainly because “Civil War” does feel like it isn’t strongly about any character or even the story, but rather a brutal and honest depiction of war that isn’t trying to push anyone to look like a hero. Hence, the focus is on journalists since they are the only neutral parties on the battlefield.

So when it comes to Lee, as much as you can appreciate her going from someone who is seemingly hardened by what they have seen in their career to a blubbering mess as the trauma breaks her, her being portrayed as numb for most of the film doesn’t push you to see Dunst in a different light.

The same goes for Jessie, going quickly from an amateur to outdoing her role model and getting awesome, and dangerous shots. A lot of what you see feels rushed to the point that, even in terms of becoming emotionally connected to characters, that isn’t handled well.

People die who you get to know, but there are no tears when someone dies; the shock isn’t strongly felt, for the way “Civil War” is, you are pushed to see everyone as a potential casualty. You are pushed to never forget Lee, Joel, Sammy, and Jessie willingly walked into a war zone, sometimes race to be within a foot of gunfire, rocket launchers, and more. So, any one of them dying was foreshadowed, for you knew the risks from the jump.

Or, to put it another way, because they are a neutral party, a medium to the tragedy and violence of war, you were never supposed to connect with them but rather feel emotions because of their work. 

Background Information

Film Length 1 Hour 49 Minutes
Date Released April 12, 2024
Where To Watch In Theaters
Director(s) Alex Garland
Writer(s) Alex Garland
Based On Work By N/A
Genre(s) ActionAdventureDramaWar
Content Rating Rated R

Listed Under Categories: ,

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Civil War (2024) Movie Review


While it can be frustrating not knowing all the details about what caused this large conflict, and there being an intentional barrier between you and the characters you follow, there is no denying “Civil War” reminds you that war is horrific, no soldier should be seen as a hero for what they and their country felt they had to do, and the chaos war causes goes far beyond the battlefield and the destabilization may not end just when one side falls.

  • The Performances - 78%
  • Sidestepping All You’d Want To Know About The War - 73%
  • An Appreciation For War Journalist - 84%
  • In IMAX, You’re Reminded How Bullets Are Weapons Of Death - 87%
User Review
0/100 (0 votes)


  • In IMAX, You’re Reminded How Bullets Are Weapons Of Death
  • An Appreciation For War Journalist


  • Seemingly Sidestepping All You’d Want To Know About The War
  • The Performances

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