Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Charlie Wilson's War

As someone who watches a lot of films, I must admit I expect more from a film from writer Aaron Sorkin (West Wing, A Few Good Men) and director Mike Nichols(Closer) than say a Mark Walhberg action flick. So while I greatly enjoyed watching Charlie Wilson's War, I did want it to be more overwhelmingly good.

Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) is a morally bankrupt Congressman from Texas. One of his supporters, a socialite from his home state named Joanne Herring (A terribly miscast Julia Roberts), asks that he look into the current invasion of Afganistan by Russia. Wilson, who sits on a Congressional subcommittee, checks into the "black ops" budget to find that the CIA is is barely doing anything to help the rebels fight the Russians. Since the story takes place during the Cold War, fighting Russia was the thing to do only you have to keep it on the down low to prevent a full scale war. Wilson, with the help of a CIA operative named Gust Avrakotos (Philip Seymour Hoffman), starts doing what he can to fund and supply the war.

Everything moves along very quickly which is key for this sordid of a topic. Whether or not you can believe all of this (based on a true story) or not is up to you. Hanks is dialed down the entire film allowing him to play off the entire cast. Hoffman steals the show once again in his supporting role. The chemistry between his character and EVERYONE is top notch. Alas, Roberts is once again exposed as an actress. Other than Closer, I can't really think of a time when she actually did something outside of her comfort zone AKA shitty, big budget comedies and succeeded(Erin Brockovich was a piece of shit). Her accent alone sends a shiver up your spine. However, the rest of the supporting cast is excellent led by the wonderful Amy Adams as Wilson's assistant.

As for the puppeteers, Sorkin is right at home with this political tale. He gives it enough comedy as to not reduce the meaning of it, but to lighten what is at it's center a very serious story. On the other hand, it is hardly groundbreaking as a whole. Mike Nichols does what he does best: gets the hell out of the way and lets the script do the work. I'm not sure Mike is a good director as much as he just picks good material. Whichever the case, the two have collaborated on a very entertaining movie. It is disappointing that Charlie Wilson's War was oddly forgotten (for a Tom Hanks movie) about after it's brief run in theatres.


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