The true story of how in the 1980s a congressman, CIA operative and a female socialite joined forces to launch a covert operation to provide Afghani Mujehideen with weapons to use against the Soviet forces.

1 Jan 2009 - 12:00 AM  UPDATED 14 Jan 2021 - 3:33 PM
How one man changed history - and had a hell of a time doing it.

I have become so accustomed to viewing serious, angst-ridden political movies that Charlie Wilson's War came as a completely delightful surprise.

Directed by the brilliant Mike Nichols, the film is smart political satire, based on a book of the same name, by award winning journalist George Crile.

This is the true story of one man's efforts to lead a covert US war against the Soviets in Afghanistan during the 1980s.

Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) is a Texan congressman who regularly indulges in booze, woman and recreational drugs. With his conscience triggered after a trip to a refugee camp in Pakistan, he lobbies congress to raise the millions needed to help Mujahideen freedom fighters repel invading Russians forces.

What I liked most about Charlie Wilson's War was Aaron Sorkin's screenplay. Famed for penning TV's brilliant West Wing, Sorkin has fashioned a tight, intelligent script that holds your attention whilst being incredibly irreverent. His message well and truly gets across by the end of the film, without leaving you exhausted and confused.

Mike Nichols's direction is clear and confident. There is something refreshingly old-fashioned about the way the film is shot, allowing Nichols great storytelling ability to shine through. He avoids sentiment and favours the absurd, which in politics and war is always in abundance.

Charlie Wilson is a terrific character. Tom Hanks relishes the chance to inhabit a personality that is so messy around the edges. A lot of the comedy is extracted from Wilson's imperfections and off-beat way of achieving results. And Julia Roberts is refreshingly understated as wealthy Texan Philanthropist, Joanne Herring.

Philip Seymour Hoffman yet again proves he is one of the best actors working today. His opening scene as the hot-headed CIA agent gave the film an electricity that didn't let up. He elevates all around him! And the chemistry between him, Hanks and Roberts serves the film well.

Charlie Wilson's War is insightful, funny and great entertainment from master filmmakers. I really enjoyed this film, 4 stars.


Watch 'Charlie Wilson's War'

Friday 22 January, 7:35pm on SBS World Movies (streaming after at SBS On Demand)

USA, 2007
Genre: Biography, Drama
Language: English
Director: Mike Nichols
Starring: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman

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