Charlie Wilson’s War

Year: 2007
Production Co: Good Time Charlie Productions
Studio: Universal
Director: Mike Nichols
Producer: Tom Hanks
Writer: Aaron Sorkin
Cast: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Emily Blunt
It was a bit of a dream cast, and the cast - together with some snappy ideas - make the film. The one dour note was the tone. We're set up to think this is Charlie Wilson's life as he hot tubs with naked models in Vegas, but the investigation that he was even there that dogs him for the rest of the movie is a little too realistic after such a comic set-up.

It's the (in part) true story of a hard drinking, womanising Texas congressman who was instrumental in giving the Afghan mujahadeen the resources to drive the invading Soviet armies back in the 1980s. At a time when nobody cared much about a central Asian backwater, several interests (charitable to the Afghans, hostile towards the Soviets) combined to mount a war effort that turned the course of history.

Wilson's joined by an abrasive CIA officer (Hoffman at a career best) and a Texan socialite (Roberts) to funnel money and weapons into the hands of the Afghan rebels, and it's a strange topic for a comedy, but writer extraordinaire Aaron Sorkin gives it the right amount of everything and does all he can with the idea.

What's not mentioned so much is the sum total of arming the Afghans and the historical bite it gave back the US a couple of decades later. I heard in an interview with Sorkin about how the scene where Wilson looks across the balcony of his apartment from the Washington monument to the Pentagon was a prophetic preface to a scene that was never included - that of the Pentagon sporting a huge hole and on fire in September 2001 at the end of the movie.

Instead we get the decidedly more palatable one where Wilson tries to convince his fellow politicians to invest in rebuilding Afghanistan after the Soviets have withdrawn but their eyes are on the next profiteering war effort.

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