The Second Trailer for Alex Garland’s Civil War Is No More Illuminating Than the First

Once again I find myself asking: What on earth is this movie for or doing? Civil War is the new film from writer-director Alex Garland, the mind behind Ex Machina and Men (and the director of Annihilation). The first trailer gave us a few hints as to Garland’s take on American politics: In a near-future, 19 states have seceded; California and Texas are united, perplexingly, in some kind of “western forces”; and Nick Offerman is in his third term as president. Kirsten Dunst’s character is a photojournalist having a very bad time covering the war.

The second trailer is primarily… war. War, and an evil earworm in the form of a whistling-haunted-child rendition of “America the Beautiful.”

There are only two bits of dialogue here: a snippet of a presidential address, and a pointed exchange between a solider and a civilian. In the first, Offerman’s character says, “Citizens of America. The people of the Florida Alliance and the Western forces of Texas and California will be welcome back to these United States as soon as their illegal secessionist government is deposed.” (Wouldn’t that be governments, plural? Is someone ruling Florida and California but not everything in between?)

In the second, someone asks a soldier who is taking aim, “You don’t know what side they’re fighting for?” The response seems intended to be very pointed: The soldier says, “Someone’s trying to kill us. We are trying to kill them.”

A24’s website still describes this film as “An adrenaline-fueled thrill ride through a near-future fractured America balanced on the razor’s edge,” and I am still giving “thrill ride” a whole lot of side-eye. But it also seems very likely there’s more going on here than meets the eye.

Civil War also stars Wagner Moura (The Shining Girls), Stephen McKinley Henderson (Dune), Sonoya Mizuno (Ex Machina) and Cailee Spaeny (Priscilla). It’s in theaters (and in IMAX!) April 12th. icon-paragraph-end

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