We all love Wagner Moura (and his new mustache), we all love Kirsten Dunst, and we all would love to see the USA crumbling. Why is it then that “Civil War” is such a dull movie?

Blame it on the director. Alex Garland can work through a good bloodbath in a movie. The sound in the action scenes is piercing to the eardrums, and the carnage shown on screen is good enough to satiate any bloodthirsty cinephile. Kudos to the sound effects and production design teams, as “Civil War” builds a society marching down to its downfall. 

The world built by Garland can be strange and recognizable at the same time, with ordinary cars sharing the same space with war tanks. To show this military paraphernalia in a big city context must have cost a fortune, and that alone justifies the “indie blockbuster” aura. 

The problem is: Garland isn’t interested in limiting just doing a visual and aural spectacle of his film. No. He is a man with something to say. Exactly what? Even he seems unsure.

Nothing to be seen

We spend the whole movie shadowing vultures disguised as journalists – led by our beloved Wagner, with Dunst in tow. With a civil war (duh) going on between Texas, California and the rest of the country, the group has the mission to arrive at the nation’s capital, where the president is surrounded by the rebel troops. What is the reason behind the conflict?

Don’t sweat about it. Garland isn’t able to give any satisfactory answer to that and, as the movie progresses, it seems like he has given up. Also, don’t worry about discovering something of significance about any of the characters: without any sublety, they go from a psychotic adrenaline in the war zone to the hysterics of PTSD. 

Garland seems to be aiming at two things at once: the parasitic cynicism of a media looking to obtain the most shocking images at any cost, and a fairly recent imaginary of political division.The thing is, the director isn’t able to create any significant grain of image about any of these themes.

That wouldn’t be a problem if the movie dove right into its vile fantasies and to the imagetic of violence. But “Civil War” is a reminder that even the biggest IMAX screen isn’t enough when there’s not much to be seen.