Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)

These things happened. They were glorious and they changed the world… and then we fucked up the endgame.

— Charlie Wilson

When I was working out recently on the stationary bike, I heard on CNN that Charlie Wilson, the Congressman that almost single-handedly ended the conflict between Afghanistan and Russia died recently at the age of 77. I have never seen the big screen adaptation of this story, Charlie Wilson’s War until now. Philip Seymour Hoffman was nominated for an Oscar for his work on the FBI agent who was part of the trio that put an end to the Cold War. It is a fascinating bit of history trapped in an uninteresting narrative.

Based on the book by George Crile, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and director Mike Nichols transports us to the Cold War era circa 1980 where the Soviets invaded Afghanistan a year before. The unlikely hero of this story is a skirt-chasing, booze-swilling Texas Congressman Charles Wilson (Tom Hanks). He overhears the plight of the Afghani people during a wild house party seeing a news report by Dan Rather. The Afghanis feel that the Americans are not listening to their cries for the necessary weapons to defeat the Soviets.

Charlie wants to do something about the covert conflict without inciting World War III. He tries to raise funds for the conflict, but nobody could do anything. America has a wait-and-see approach to when the Soviets run out of supplies to finally do something.

By sheer happenstance, Charlie gets a call from a wealthy oil heiress who tries to do something thing with the conflict, Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts). She urges Charlie to go to Pakistan to see the Afghani refugee camps there after a roll in the hay for old time’s sake. Charlie books a trip to Pakistan with his trusty executive assistant, Bonnie Bach (Amy Adams) at his side.

Charlie meets the refugees that shared with him horror stories that the Soviets would do. Defectors would be run over by military tanks, children had limbs blown off from field bombs that looked like toys or the Soviets would slit the throats of children while the parents watched in horror.

Charlie wants to have the countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to supply enough weapons to stop the Soviet helicopters. He enlists the help of a CIA agent, Gust Avrakotos (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to help put together a task force to get the necessary weapons for the Afghanis to combat the Soviets.

This was supposed to be a comedy of errors about the mostly unlikely of people that would be instrumental for the greatest covert operation in US History, but I was mostly uninterested with the path to end the Cold War. Having two hours of weapons jargon thrown at you would make you bored off your tits. What the fuck is going on? What the hell are you talking about? Why should I care about every minute detail?

Hoffman was very good as the nonsense CIA agent that is not afraid to tell somebody to fuck themselves. They were glorious moments. The rest of the movie I could have done without. This movie is tedious to watch. I didn’t care about this boozehound trying to be a hero or the Dallas reject with the “angular face”. The Sorkin dialogue was nice, but I thought it tried to be a comedy about dramatic events.

Judgment: I was largely disappointed with this film. I wish this movie was documentary instead.

Rating: **1/2

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About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on February 13, 2010, in 2007, Academy Award Nominee, Comedy, Drama and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I actually liked it, it was pleasant enough though not perfect.

    • I wanted to like the movie as well, but I couldn’t. The tone was off. Most of the character were blah. I think that Mike Nichols and Aaron Sorkin would make it sing, but no.

  2. mcarteratthemovies

    I had very high hopes for this movie but walked away feeling totally letdown. Julia Roberts’ character is a mess; Tom Hanks is likable but totally unremarkable. The only thing that saved it for me was my man, Philip Seymour Hoffman, bringing on the funny.

  3. I fucking hated this movie. The only redeeming part was the Hanks/Hoffman banter. Julia Roberts needed someone to punch her in her face and shut her the hell up! She is southern and yet she didn’t pull off a believable southerner? And this woman has an Oscar?

    Ha………okay I just referenced my review and I said very similar things to you and what I just posted above. Here, for chuckles:

    http://www.moviemobsters.com/2009/09/02/charlie-wilsons-war-2007-2/

  4. Thought this wasn’t bad when I first saw it, only thing I remember about it is Hoffman though. That seems to happen a lot.

    • Hoffman is fantastic is this movie. I couldn’t help looking at the angular face of Julia Roberts, especially with that buffont(sp?) blond wig she had on.

  5. The documentary shades light on Charlie Wilson’s role as a congressman in providing ammunition and weaponry to Mujahideen ‘freedom fighters’. It does not mention anything about Charlie’s role, if any, in enlisting Saudi Arabian teachers in brainwashing the freedom fighters with Islamic jihad ideas to create suicide bombers. The freedom fighters created havoc for USSR military. That also boosted confidence in those freedom fighters to destroy the remaining superpower USA, because of the feeling that USA ‘used them’ to defeat the soviet military and USA left them in cold after achieving that.

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