Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Political satire as written by the guy who created that TV show ‘The West Wing’. Now I’ve never seen ‘The West Wing’, mainly because I don’t watch a lot of television, but Fox News tells me it’s quite the bastion of liberalness. But then Fox News thinks Mussolini was a leftist so take that as you will. So with ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’, Mr. Sorkin has penned a script detailing with arguably the most significant event in the world history of the 20th century, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the subsequent collapse of communism directly caused by the powerful Red Curtain’s failure to successfully invade Afghanistan. I realize that China is allegedly a communist nation, but looking at China right about now they are as economically aggressive and more capitalistic than any nation on the planet. If I recall correctly the bulk of the credit for this monumental event went to the sitting President Ronald Reagan, but not so fast my friend as Sorkin, along with director Mike Nichols informs us that the REAL credit belongs to a relatively obscure, hard drinking, skirt chasing, cocaine snorting liberal Texas senator by the name of Charlie Wilson, and his tale is told in the very well crafted ‘Charlie Wilson’s war’.

In case one doubts Senator Charlie Wilson being a hard drinking, skirt chasing, cocaine sampling free spirit, when we first meet Senator Wilson (Tom Hanks) he’s sitting in a Las Vegas hot tub with a drink in his hand surrounded naked strippers who are snorting cocaine. A man has a right to loosen up you know? Senator Wilson observes through the sea of silicon, Anchorman Dan Rather on a TV monitor doing some interviews in Afghanistan which piques his interest as he heads back to Washington D.C. to carry on the mundane tasks of being a U.S. Senator. One thing we learn about the Senator back in D.C. is that he is very savvy politically, is never far from a stiff drink and only hires smart young beautiful women as his aides, known on Capitol Hill as ‘Charlie’s Angels’. Clever.

Soon Senator Wilson gets a call from filthy rich, extreme right wing, bible thumping Texas socialite, and close personal friend the beautiful Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts) who, after sexing Charlie up, informs him of the Soviet atrocities committed in Afghanistan and essentially commands him to meet with the President of the tiny Muslim nation made of rocks and spearhead a movement to get the Afghanis the funding and weapons needed to defend themselves. In Afghanistan with his most trusted aide and self appointed conscience Bonnie Bach (Amy Adams), Senator Wilson meets with the rather disgusted President of Afghanistan (Om Puri) and takes a tour of the ravaged heartbreaking refugee camps and decides then and there what needs to be done. He enlists the aid of abrasive but effective CIA operative Gust Avrakotos (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and together these two pull every string they have, work every angle at their disposal, and cash in on every political promise available to give the people of Afghanistan the means to defend their land. The rest, as they say, is history.

Some review blurbs I’ve read pertaining to ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ proclaim that actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman ‘steals the show’. Now I have mad love Mr. Hoffman’s talent but he’d have to be John Dillinger to steal a movie from Tom Hanks, and today Mr. Hoffman, good as he may be in this film, isn’t John Dillinger. This film soars on the wings of the charm, wit and force of will of the great Tom Hanks who makes Charlie Wilson the most human and flawed of characters, swept away by the need, for the first time in his political life, to do something larger than himself. This movie has a lot weighted, quick and detailed dialog, with a lot of that dialog based on government procedures and inside wrangling that not a lot people outside of Capitol hill could understand. However Sorkin’s scripts coupled with the talents uf the stellar cast, particularly Hanks, and Mike Nichols direction manages the make the seemingly impossible task of taking a six hour C-Span lecture and framing it in way that is not only accessible, but also witty, funny, clever and very entertaining.

There are some rather powerful political messages imbedded within this narrative, with the most damning being that the weapons that Charlie Wilson helped to secure for Afghanistan to beat back the Russians are being used to kill American soldiers today. In the film, we are led to believe, Senator Wilson warned against such a thing happening and even offered a seemingly simple solution for this, but short-sighted would be how our government is portrayed in this movie and Wilson’s pleas fell on deaf ears. If one is at all in interested in fast, behind the back dealings of Washington politics, ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ makes for an interesting watch.

Of course being as this is one of the ‘based on true events’ type stories, one always has to wonder what is true and what is embellished or changed for dramatic license, but that doesn’t alter ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ from being one of the smartest and most   clever films we’ve seen as 2007 comes to a close.

Real Time Web