Charlie Wilson's War (2007)
Director: Mike Nichols
Cast: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams
Plot: A drama based on a Texas congressman Charlie Wilson's covert dealings in Afghanistan, where his efforts to assist rebels in their war with the Soviets have some unforeseen and long-reaching effects.
Genre: Biography / Comedy / Drama
Awards: Nom. for 1 Oscar - Best Supporting Actor
Rating: NC16 for strong language, nudity/sexual content and some drug use.
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
Oscar-winning German director Mike Nichols, the man behind critically-acclaimed films such as The Graduate and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? brings the extraordinary story of Charlie Wilson to the big screen. Starring some of the most marketable Hollywood acting talents - Tom Hanks, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Julia Roberts - Charlie Wilson's War is politics made digestible to the common man.
The star of the show is Hoffman, who is currently one of the world's most proficient actors; he outshines Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts in another Oscar-nominated role as a political spy who aids Charlie Wilson in his quest to free Afghanistan from the stranglehold of the Red Army.
Nichols handles the subject matter well, considering the fact that Middle Eastern politics can be rather sensitive. While other filmmakers might have chosen to tell the story of Charlie Wilson with more seriousness, Nichols remarkably opts for a playful mood. The comedic take is fresh and light-hearted, and occasionally outright hilarious, though one is inclined to feel that it might have been too playful for the Academy's liking, earning just one nomination for supporting actor.
Charlie Wilson's War runs under a hundred minutes, quite short actually considering the scope of the story. Thankfully, it gets the message through. Was the American government inept in its handling of the Afghanistan-Russia war? Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Charlie Wilson almost single-handedly turned the tide in the war for the liberation of the Afghans. He's one of the true heroes of our time. Nichols captures the essence of his heroism by showing in the last fifteen minutes, montages of Afghan freedom fighters gunning down Soviet choppers with advanced, imported weapons in spectacular crash-and-burn fashion. Charlie Wilson's War is not necessarily a cinematic achievement, but it's a worthwhile watch.
GRADE: B+ (8/10 or 3.5 stars)
Click here to go back to Central Station.