This Civil War movie feels like an epic, but it’s really about the changing motives and loyalties of individual fighters. The movie centers on the Bushwhackers, a band of pro-Confederate guerillas fighting along the Kansas-Missouri border.
The most interesting characters are German-born teenager Jake Roedel (Tobey Maguire) and freed slave Daniel Holt (Jeffrey Wright). Both have their loyalties questioned repeatedly and both will end up questioning their own reasons for fighting for the Southern cause.
Ride with the Devil has the usual war movie scenes: battles big and small, the innocent caught in the middle and the physical toll of the fighting. While the movie occasionally suffers from a plodding story and awkwardly formal dialogue, it succeeds in showing why these people continued to fight, even as it became obvious that they were on the losing side.