‘Civil War’ Review: Ridiculously Dopey, Anti-Trump Snuff Film


A hundred minutes into writer, director Alex Garland’s Civil War, I was hit with a wild case of déjà vu. Since the movie wasn’t engaging, I had plenty of head space to explore this feeling. What is this? Where is this déjà vu coming from? Maybe it has nothing to do with the movie. Maybe this is how everyone feels after eating a bag of licorice purchased at Big Lots?

Then it hit me.

This is the stupidest movie I’ve ever seen.

I mean, Civil War is dumb—as in first-draft dumb. Garland directed exactly one good movie — Ex Machina — followed by two flops. So, it’s beyond me that no one told him how much work his script still needed.

Anyway, so I’m sitting there wondering why Civil War felt so familiar, and then it hit me—Elysium! The dumb in Elysium (2013). Remember how all that dumb rained down like hailstones the size of car batteries? Oh, yes, I’d been here before—a sweaty, desperate, left-wing wankathon undermined by smug plot holes that scream: This will hit so many left-wing sweet spots, there’s no reason to bother with logic or reality.

First things first…

The entertainment media, filmmakers, and stars are all lying to you (big surprise). The idea Civil War is not partisan is nothing less than a cinematic-roofie slipped into a publicity campaign so the Beautiful People can sit back and laugh, knowing the opening minutes bend us Trumptards right over the seats. Civil War opens with the Evil White President with the Great Hair and Red Tie using this cadence to spread a lie: “Some are already calling it the greatest victory in the history of military campaigns.”

To expose how dumb this movie is, I have to spoil the whole plot. You’ve been warned…


Civil War’s biggest problem is that there is no courage of conviction. Thirty years ago, an Oliver Stone or Spike Lee would’ve directed the hell out of this, not caring who got offended. Garland’s screenplay is a pile of chickenshit. Instead of giving the story the energy of a strident point of view, he’s like a boxer hiding behind the ref, throwing the occasional sucker punch.

And without a declared point of view, you never know who to root for. Has President GreatHairRedTie (Nick Offerman) refused to leave office for good reason—to hold the union together? (After we’re told the president disbanded the FBI and shoots journalists on sight, I was sure he was the hero.) On the other side, there’s the Western Forces (WF), a military alliance between California and Texas to take President GreatHairRedTie down. But we’re never told what they stand for other than murdering Trump.

Garland’s script is so cowardly it removes a sense of stakes. Apparently, we’re supposed to automatically side with the WF because … it’s multicultural?

The plot is a dull road movie where four “journalists” drive from New York to Washington, D.C. Their objective is to interview the president. Along for the ride is hardened photojournalist Lee Smith (Kirsten Dunst—the only interesting anything in this clunker), her colleague Joel (Wagner Moura—a total ham), aging New York Times reporter Sammy (Stephen McKinley Henderson—doing his best in a cliched role), and Jesse (a forgettable Cailee Spaeny), the budding photojournalist whose real job is to coax exposition from the others.

Throughout the journey, this foursome, who we never really get to know and therefore feel no tension when they’re in danger, is regularly menaced by rural white guys and only rural white guys. The journey is also boring. We’re driving to D.C. to ask the president hard questions offers motivation but no emotional investment. And the dialogue… Oh, man… After a close call, Jesse talks about how scared she was and then says, “I never felt more alive.” That’s as first draft as it gets.

It sure doesn’t help that by this time, someone has already mentioned the “Anifa Massacre,” which is the only movie I want to see.

Anyway, I promised to spoil the entire plot, so here it is…

First off, why are only two states fighting to remove President GreatHairRedTie after he basically declared himself dictator with an unelected third term? This makes zero sense, including historical sense. People from all over the country would form battalions and join a side. Then, we learn that the remaining 48 states broke apart into the Florida Alliance, the New People’s Army, and the Loyalist States. Okay, but what are they doing?

There are over two dozen Loyalist States, so why does it look like only 11 people are protecting the president at the White House?

There are over two dozen Loyalist States on the president’s side and only two states in the Western Forces against the president. Why is the president losing?

Why did that guy admit to the redneck he was from Hong Kong? Darwin demanded that the idiot get shot.

What happened to the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force?

Why doesn’t the president use low-level nukes to wipe out the Western Forces?

Why is there no air war or no one in command of the air?

Why is President GreatHairRedTie sitting in the Oval Office waiting to be killed instead of hiding deep in a bunker with the nuclear codes?

Why does Kirsten Dunst’s character meltdown with PTSD at the precise moment it’s all happening? (Answer: Oscar Moment.)

Plenty of dystopian movies refuse to explain everything, but within their particular world, the world makes sense. There’s a logic to them. There are rules. Further, we are given a side or someone to root for. The stakes are a little higher than Will four dull characters interview the president? Real edge-of-your-seat stuff there.

Civil War wants to be an anti-Trump snuff film, a comfort blanky, a support animal of wish-fulfillment for unmoored leftists and CNN anchors who look like they’ve been slapped every time another 2024 poll gets released. But this is just a bad movie undermined by an unforgivably lazy script.

Borrowed Time is winning five-star raves from everyday readers. You can read an excerpt here and an in-depth review here. Also available on Kindle and Audiobook


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