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Compelling thoughts populate Civil War

Some can take Civil War as a specific warning or prediction of upcoming events in a divided U.S. society, but I lean more to that idea of “thought experiment,” a mental exercise that takes on a hypothetical situation with the challenge of envisioning its process and results. Writer-director Alex Garland pushes his apocalyptic idea forward with all seriousness, though I sometimes found myself flashing to the movie Zombieland: Double Tap for similar setups. Set in current times, Civil War features a press corps that receives what seems like a fantasy level of access and support from war leaders. Kirsten Dunst heads the cast as Lee, a prize-winning photojournalist who gets into the heart of battles and freezes events in still shots featuring staggering moments. As in the Zombieland sequel, she and her cohorts head on dangerous roads to Washington, D.C. and the White House. In her case, the life-threatening



events come from live humans in a disrupted world full of broken rules. Writer Garland focuses on internal turmoil, ignoring the real possibility that outside forces from other cultures and countries would likely play a major role in the unrest. So rolling with Garland’s perception, Civil War runs effectively, producing suspense and tension from its dramatic structure of conflict, both among individuals and in effects-laden battles. Though effects look great, high points in emotion come from people, especially in a sequence featuring actor Jesse Plemmons in a standoff with reporters. While some of Civil War’s components seem about as believable as zombies taking over the country, other aspects of his compelling thought process prove sadly plausible.

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