Dec 2007 27

Mike Nichols new film is a great piece of history through film with a story that few people probably have heard of or know much about in the first place.
Tom Hanks stars as the title character; a congressman from a small district in Texas that you would think didn’t have much power, but has a direct impact on the outcome of the cold war. Charlie Wilson was the leader of a classified committee that had an unlimited budget when dolling out money to military needs such as the Soviet/Afghanistan conflict in the 80’s. Spurred by a news report on the state of Afghanistan, Wilson is inspired by the resolve of the people and their desire to fight and win the fight against the great Communist threat.
The first 30min of this film is all set up and we meet the characters along the way. It is a bit slow, and drags just a tad, but we do get to meet Bonnie Bach (Amy Adams), Wilson’s top assistant and one of many good looking females in Wilson‘s congressional staff. Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts), a rich Afghan supporter who happens to be the 6th richest women in Texas and one of Charlie’s love affairs. Finally, we are also introduced to Gust Avrakotos (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), a combative CIA agent that is that is hot headed but way too smart to let go and eventually becomes the Afghan intelligence leader for the CIA.
The movie is by no means dull just nothing is really happening up until you get Gust and Charlie in the same room. From there the ball gets rolling and the movie never lets up. Hoffman is brilliant as the dry and quick witted Gust with him and Hanks bouncing back and forth off each other with great effect as they orchestrate a plan to arm the Afghanistan people with weapons to “shoot down the helicopters.”
All of the actors do a fine job and there isn’t a bad performance to be found here. The direction is also very good, but not on the same level as Nichols previous film the amazing Closer, and delivers an entertaining history lesson that easy to swallow for most audiences; don’t expect an explanation of the Cold War though, you have to at least understand what that is coming in. Aaron Sorkin’s script is also solid and very funny at times, and keeps a great pace throughout; as fore mentioned.
In the end, Charlie Wilson’s War is an entertaining look at a hidden gem of a story from history that is full of comedy and political intrigue. It is also interesting to see what this country is capable of doing when it wants to while also allowing the film to serve as a belated cautionary tale that reminds us to see things through till the end. See this for Hoffman, if you are a fan of history, or if you want to see Tom Hanks doing great work as usual.


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