Civil War in Joburg Cinemas: A Gripping Dystopian Thriller You Have to See


Tough, unsettling and ‘possibly the year’s most controversial film’ (Houston Chronicle), Civil War is a gripping and disturbing portrait of a highly possible reality in a futuristic divided and war-torn America.

Director and Writer: Alex Garland
Producers: Andrew Macdonald, Allon Reich, Gregory Goodman
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Cailee Spaeny, Nick Offerman, Jesse Plemons
Genre: Futuristic/Dystopian Action
Running Time: 109 minutes 
Age restriction: 18 (Language, Prejudice, Violence)

What is the new Civil War movie about?

A rapidly escalating civil war has engulfed the nation in the near future. A team of military-embedded journalists race across the United States, to the front lines in Charlottesville, Virginia and then the White House to interview the president before warring factions confront the government. The protagonists desperately want to get to the president before he is overthrown and/or killed so they can get the scoop.

The majority of the states (known as Loyalist States) remain under the control of an authoritarian third-term US President. Other breakaway states allied with the Western Forces, Florida Alliance and New People’s Army. Garland never completely lets on how this schism has occurred, and we have an intentional feeling, but we see the result – open fratricidal warfare, shocking violence and complete chaos. Possibly riffing on the January 6 Capitol attack, Civil War provides a glimpse of what is ultimately quite believable horror.

Civil War

Still, many argue that the primary theme in Civil War is the mentality of reporters, and all that surrounds the idea of “the scoop” – the quest as an end unto itself, even. Journalists’ obsession with, and addiction to the dopamine hit that comes with risking one’s life is perhaps at the core of the film. These are war correspondents who don’t care about the real-world impact of the political realities, or, they manage to compartmentalise it and somehow trick themselves into thinking it does not affect them emotionally.

Civil War
Kirsten Dunst

Who stars in Civil War?

Kirsten Dunst (The Power of the Dog, Interview with a Vampire, Melancholia, On Becoming God in Central Florida) stars as Lee, an experienced (and jaded) photojournalist who is accompanied by longtime colleague Joel (Wagner Moura, Sergio), a reporter who brings a less serious character to the table, at least initially. Much older Sammy (Stephen McKinley Henderson, Beau Is Afraid) joins the expedition, hoping for one last shot at a good story. The much younger Jessie (Cailee Spaeny, Priscilla) is also along for the trip, looking to Lee as a kind of mentor and hoping to learn more about the dangerous profession.

Nick Offerman (The Last of Us, Parks and Recreation) plays the right-wing president, who is apparently not based on any past of existing head of state. Offerman has also mentioned a lack of political focus in the movie.

Jesse Plemons, who recently received acclaim for his role as the husband in the series Love and Death about real-life murder suspect Candy Montgomery, plays an unnamed redneck member of a breakaway militia. His particularly harrowing key scene has already stirred up attention on social media, and posts about a certain pride felt by Kirsten Dunst, who is the actor’s wife (in real life).

Director and writer Alex Garland, best known for similarly uncomfortable films such as Ex Machina (2015), Annihilation (2018), and The Beach (2000), has released a new Civil War movie (2024)(there are several other older movies by the same name). He’s said the reason why his new film is unnerving is that “it’s a film about the product of polarization and division”, while Kirsten Dunst has been quoted as saying “At the heart of all of this, it’s really about humanity and what happens when people stop treating each other like human beings”.

Civil War

When is the Civil War release date, and where can we see it?

The new Civil War movie (2024) is screening in South African cinemas nationwide from Friday 12 April. Catch it at Ster Kinekor, Nu Metro and leading cinemas nationwide.

See more films showing in cinemas this month

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