Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez
|Featuring:||Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Om Puri, Jud Taylor, Shiri Appleby, Spencer Garrett|
|Producer:||Celia D. Costas, Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman|
“A stiff drink. A little mascara. A lot of nerve. Who said they couldn’t bring down the Soviet empire. Based on a true story. You think we could make all this up?”
Veteran director Mike Nichols (“The Graduate,” “The Birdcage,” and “Closer”) teams up with “The West Wing” scribe Aaron Sorkin to bring us “Charlie Wilson’s War”, the true story of a boozing, womanizing congressman who helped bring down the Soviet Empire during the Cold War. America’s everyman Tom Hanks plays Charlie Wilson, in the type of frat-boy role we haven’t seen him take in a very long time. We first find Wilson partying naked in a hot tub in Vegas with Playboy models, but obsessing over a news report he sees airing on the TV over the hot tub. It is a piece on Afghanistan’s struggle to resist the advance of the Soviets. Wilson is intrigued, and, upon returning to Washington, meets with fellow committee members to double the amount of money used to aid the Afghans, bringing it to a total of 10 million dollars.
To Wilson, this seems like enough, but during a romantic interlude, he is interrupted by a call from Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts), an influential, born-again Texas socialite who has a vested interest in the Afghans struggle. She scoffs at the small sum, and arranges for Wilson to be flown to the Middle East to see first-hand the atrocities being committed by the Soviets. Wilson is sobered by meeting with the victims, including a few children whose limbs were blown off by land mines made to look like toys and candy wrappers. Wilson returns to Washington with the sole desire to get the Afghans all the money they need to save their country, and enlists the help of crude CIA agent Gus Avrakotos (Phillip Seymour Hoffman).
“Charlie Wilson’s War” certainly isn’t your typical “war” movie; in fact, most of the film is simply various people talking about what is happening, or what will be done to fix things. This isn’t a bad thing, but for people looking for any real action, you will be looking in the wrong place if you are looking here.
Christians interested in seeing this film should be cautious regarding the film’s content. Honestly, the first ten minutes are the worst parts, as we get both male and female nudity, language, drug use, and other sexual/sensual content. The content isn’t needed, as it is not entirely relevant to the story, other than to establish the fact that Charlie Wilson is a man of questionable ethics and morals. I wouldn’t normally say this about a movie, but viewers could miss the first 10-15 minutes and not miss any vital parts of the movie, and will save themselves from seeing and hearing things they don’t want to be exposed to. The rest of the film is much tamer in comparison, but does contain some fairly strong language (mostly from Hoffman’s character) and some sensually attired women. Charlie Wilson certainly isn’t a role model himself, and he makes light of his shortcomings. And, Julia Roberts’s character is a professing Christian, but seems to make a habit of sleeping with men so she can get them to do what she wants later.
“Charlie Wilson’s War” starts out slowly, with names and events being thrown around during conversations that may cause some viewers to grow restless. But, as Charlie visits the victims, and begins his plan to equip the Afghans, the film moves along at a crisp pace, with smart dialogue and fantastic acting. Hanks is perfect in this role, and frankly hasn’t been this good in quite some time. Julia Roberts is good in her role, although this role could have gone to someone else and would have been nearly as good. Hoffman is good as always, playing his usual grumpy, crude character.
This film isn’t about the war so much as it is about the man who helped put a stop to it. Throughout the film, characters make various interesting, thoughtful remarks on world politics, and observations on the way things get done in Washington. The film is good up until the last 15 minutes, when it becomes great. It is no secret that the United States helped supply the Afghans with the weapons to fight the Soviets, only to have the Taliban use the same weapons, and military training against the Americans years later. The film makes no direct references to the Taliban, Bin Laden, or September 11th, but Hoffman’s character tells Charlie a fable of a Zen master near the end of the film that will surely give you chills; listen for the sound effect in the background during this scene.
This film isn’t for everyone, and it certainly isn’t for children. But, adults interested in world politics and in seeing how one man shaped our history today, should skip the first 15 minutes, then see “Charlie Wilson’s War”.
Violence: Mild / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Heavy