Charlie Wilson’s War is the true story of a congressman who single-handedly helped end Communism and the cold war. Played by Tom Hanks, Wilson did this by manipulating all the right people in all the right places to get Afghanistan more defense power. An incredible feat but not accomplished without help from C.I.A. agent Gus played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman and a very wealthy Texan woman Joanne, played by Julia “What have you done for us lately?” Roberts. A truly amazing story that once translated to film, flaws are born.
The movie, for the most part, is boring to look at. No interesting camera work at all other than some fantastic war moments. In fact, without scribe Aaron Sorkin’s colourful dialogue, it would be downright dull. The acting also helps. Tom Hanks does a good job playing the charismatic Wilson. It’s quite annoying, however that Hanks sure loves playing extraordinary men. If you take a look at Hank’s seemingly diverse roles, you’ll notice he likes playing sentimental crowd pleasing characters. I’m not saying he is not a great actor, but I’m getting damn tired of him. The female version of Hanks (meaning an actor who is far too distracting from the actual character) is Julia Roberts. Guess what!? She has a similar performance and I’m damn tired of her as well. Thank God that Hoffman plays Gus, which on his own makes up for everything else. An overlooked Amy Adams as Wilson’s assistant is terrific as well.
What Charlie Wilson achieved was important but as we all know, led to some terrible consequences. Afghans who received weapons and training have become terrorists (Osama Bin Laden) and have caused some terrible events. It is very interesting when Wilson and Gus are having a conversation, about whether there will be repercussions of their actions, on an apartment deck (pictured above) and you can clearly hear an airplane. It is normal to hear an airplane from a deck I know, but it is nearly as loud as the conversation being had. I believe this to be a form of foreshadowing regarding 9/11. Another interesting film making choice is mixing movie war scenes with real footage, which I also found effective. The screenplay is great but perhaps no more impressive than Sorkin’s work on television (The West Wing, Studio 60). The story is so engaging that it makes up for an occasional lack of film making flare. A very good movie indeed, but amongst so many greats this year, it will likely be forgotten. Or, it should be. But Hollywood is not damn tired of praising Hanks and Roberts.