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An adrenaline-fueled thrill ride through a near-future fractured America balanced on the razors edge. (A24)

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Marigold 

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English A violent nightmare that I dreamed for some unknown reason. Kind of like Children of Men from Wish. Garland somewhat mechanically adorns his shady road movie with random images of a broken America. A number of them are impressive, with powerful visuals and staging (mainly the scene with Jesse Plemons). The film manages to induce anxiety to the point of nausea from a cruel world that is not so far from The Walking Dead in its absence of morality and prevalence of brutality. But…the whole thing seems terribly gratuitous; for all of the questions that the film wants to raise, Garland’s work just shrugs its shoulders and wagers on another spectacular composition. The characters are flat and the ethics and psychology of the war reporters come across as very superficial research. There is little in the way of Nietzschean gazing into the abyss in this film, which paradoxically comes across as terribly thesis-based and illustrative, but it isn’t at all clear what its thesis is or what it actually illustrates. An impressive exercise in unclearly straddling the line between a skilfully made spectacle and a not so skilfully rendered metaphor of a divided country. It’s actually a reiteration of my problem with Garland, a maker of spectacular movies that are dull at their core. ()

EvilPhoEniX 

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English I like Alex Garland's work and even though he makes films that aren't exactly audience friendly, he hasn't stepped on my toes once so far, so I was curious to see how he'd handle a slightly different material, more audience friendly, with a blockbuster format and on a very topical subject, and it's great, though not without its faults. It's a war road movie set in a war-ravaged America with an apocalyptic tinge that has a very slow pace most of the time, but thankfully it works thanks to convincing actors, decent dialogue and an uncomfortable atmosphere. I was a bit bothered that we don't see the birth of the conflict but are thrown somewhere in the middle, and also that the whole film is from a journalists point of view, I would have liked to see what's going on in other parts of America or some behind the scenes from the government on what the president is currently dealing with/planning, but never mind. The highlights are two scenes: the confrontation with Jesse Plemons, which has a very chilling atmosphere and a great build up, and then the finale – I was worried Garland would give us a three-minute shootout but he surprised us. We actually get more than twenty minutes of military action! A massive attack on the White House and it has it all: amazing sound of weapons, perfect cinematography, gripping atmosphere, in short it looks really dense and authentic, a perfect dreamlike action war finale. Of course, the few naturalistic shots are nice, but there could have been more of them. 80% ()

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Kaka 

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English A film that offers some impressive moments, but as a whole it mostly skims the surface. It deals with a few key themes, but it is mostly too thesis-like and one-dimensional. A raging America where we get no introduction and a miserable, rushed conclusion. Jesse Plemons steals for himself what is undoubtedly the film's best scene, and the final wartime inferno, while beautifully fluid and robust in sound, lacks technical skill and sophistication. It's not bad, Alex Garland is a capable and distinctive director, but Civil War is perhaps too ambitious a theme that deserved more than a journalistic road-movie with a wartime finale. ()

Goldbeater 

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English For Alex Garland, Civil War is a return to the tried-and-tested formula of a group of characters wandering through an "inhuman" landscape in pursuit of a vague goal, but compared to 28 Days Later, Annihilation and Sunshine, the British filmmaker is now dealing with a rather down-to-earth and quite realistic scenario. I've always seen him as a very capable genre filmmaker and I also got what I expected from his latest effort: a solid simple genre film; don't expect anything complicated or deep. The relative straightforwardness actually suits Garland far more than the artsy symbolism of his previous two efforts, which is also not to say that Civil War completely resigns itself to it. If I have one criticism, it's some all-too-obvious visual choices, in a film that, given the premise, would be best served by a straightforward and almost documentary-like approach, the director too often tries to frame the characters in all symmetry in the middle of the frame, as if they were in a Wes Anderson film, and it doesn't quite fit the concept. On the other hand, I appreciate that Garland didn't reach for some low-hanging fruit in the script and somehow politicised the film in a one-sided way at its core, so we get a story that is balanced and, most importantly, not black-and-white. ()

Lima 

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English Recall the three year old event when the Trump mob stormed the Capitol. Alex Garland sensitively and thoughtfully directs this theme, this societal schism, into disconnected mini-stories, with just these aforementioned protagonists (and they don't need a buffalo head to do it) killing because "real fucking America", all of which the protagonists, journalists, follow on their way to Washington. As long it stays in the road movie waters, with lots of iconic scenes, it's great. Unfortunately, Garland flips the switch at the end, and with the arrival in D.C., it becomes a regular war movie that felt like a mannerism in its denouement and showdown. Not only did it leave me cold at the end, but I actually thought "and that's it, Alex?". Too bad, we had the build-up to the movie event of the year, and well, it's not. But still an honest 4 stars (no stripes) for the impressive heaviness and disillusionment with humanity in the first two thirds. ()

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