KSL Movie Show review: ‘Civil War’ is a powerful movie that needs to be seen

Apr 12, 2024, 8:49 AM | Updated: Apr 18, 2024, 3:39 pm

Steve Sales ranks "Civil War" as a B-grade movie. Powerful, but one bad dramatic flair ruins it....

Steve Sales reviews "Civil War" for the KSL Movie Show.

Editor’s note: This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

SALT LAKE CITY — The new “Civil War” movie would like you to believe that in the not-too-distant future, the political divisions in our nation, will lead to another civil war. Not gonna lie. That sounds horrifyingly possible.

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Then it suggests the country will be divided into four zones: the Florida Alliance is the southern states, the New People’s Army which includes the Northwest, the Intermountain area (including Utah), the Loyalist states, including all the original colonies, some areas of the Midwest, plus Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. And finally, the powerhouse Western Forces made up of California and Texas.


Did they say California and Texas are going to work together to overthrow a power-mad U.S. President (Nick Offerman) who is currently serving a third term in office? Oh, so this is a fantasy adventure. Surely it must be, if the filmmakers think California and Texas could ever agree on anything, much less become allies in a fight for America’s democratic ideals. But I’ll play along since this sounds like a massive cautionary tale about what could happen if we don’t start trying to understand each other.

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Here’s where we meet Lee Smith (Kirsten Dunst) a seasoned, respected photojournalist who has filmed every nightmare and trouble spot in the world for the past 25 years. She teams up with journalist Joel (Wagner Moura) whenever there’s a big story in the works. We also meet Sammy (Stephen McKinley Henderson), a veteran New York Times reporter, who mentored both Lee and Joel. Plus, they are practically accosted by a photojournalist wannabe, Jessie (Cailee Spaeny) to please let her tag along on their next assignment.

Since everything is in such chaos and the Western Forces alliance is working its way toward the nation’s capital, these four set out over the back roads between New York City and Washington D.C. in hopes of not only capturing on film the dramatic battles taking place but also to interview the President, who is quickly losing support in the Loyalist States.

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This is all about them taking the long way around and seeing what’s happening in other parts of the country. They will experience everything from small towns preferring to stay out of the fray to armed militia murdering citizen immigrants for not being “real Americans.”

It is chilling and it is ugly.

However to its credit, “Civil War” is about four people caught up amid this tragedy. For me, a movie is doing its job when it makes you care about its main characters, which brings me to my one very negative reaction to a plot turn near the end of the film involving the newcomer Jessie. You’ll know it if and when you see the film. It’s too abrupt, it’s cold-blooded and it’s simply out-of-character. It only serves to create a dramatic flair and it was ill-conceived.

Other than that, this is one, powerful movie that needs to be seen.

CIVIL WAR (B) Rated R for strong violent content, bloody/disturbing images and language. Starring Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura, Cailee Spaeny, Stephen McKinley Henderson and Nick Offerman. Written and directed by Alex Garland (“Annihilation” “Ex Machina”) – filmed in the Atlanta area. Running time: 109 minutes.

The KSL Movie Show with Andy Farnsworth and Steve Salles airs Fridays on KSL NewsRadio from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Follow the show on Facebook, and join The KSL Movie Show Club for exclusive perks by texting MOVIE to 57500.

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KSL Movie Show review: ‘Civil War’ is a powerful movie that needs to be seen