All posts tagged: askew.This film

A 21st-Century Civil War Wouldn’t Happen Like This—Right?

A 21st-Century Civil War Wouldn’t Happen Like This—Right?

In Alex Garland’s new film, Civil War, the United States has fallen into an internecine conflict pitting the government against separatist forces—a narrative with uncomfortable resonance in these politically polarized times. Unlike in our own world, it’s never really clear in the movie why the nation is fighting itself. We kick off with vague talk of “western forces” and an implausible-sounding alliance between Texas and California, but there isn’t much more explanatory world-building. All we know is that America is a battleground; the other blanks can be filled in however you’d like. That may sound frustrating, but anyone familiar with Garland’s storytelling style knows how distant he can seem. His prior films (Ex Machina, Annihilation, and Men) took what could have been complicated, lore-heavy genre premises and stripped them down into something stark and more alienating. Civil War does the same, but with the intensity dialed even higher and the stakes more frighteningly grounded. Yes, the viewer isn’t quite sure what has thrown America into turmoil, beyond the fact that the president (played by Nick …