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Fans of Aaron Sorkin will be aware of the fact that while his characters do a fair amount of swearing and pretend to talk tough they become syrupy sentimentalists by the end of whatever story he sets up. Even in The Social Network (2010) Mark Zuckerberg expresses a desire to return to his old life with friends and people who care for him after upending the life of his closest friend Eduardo Saverin. This is a film that is highly guilty of this irritating habit of Sorkin's as he takes what should have been a story worthy of black comedy and attempts to provide a hagiographic account of the morally questionable actions of the figures it profiles. Like Three Things (1999) it promises to be a delightfully cynical satire but then backs out at the last minute.
In the early 1980s congressman Charlie Wilson, Tom Hanks, spends his time drinking alcohol, taking drugs and spending time in the company of prostitutes and strippers. When his friend and frequent sexual partner Joanne Herring, Julia Roberts, pushes him to support the Pashtuns by providing the Pakistani government with weapons that will allow them to defend themselves against Soviet Union. Wilson must arrange a covert war so that the United States will not appear as the nation who have provided the weapons and must make deals with neighboring countries including Israel to do so. The war results in Soviet forces moving out of the area but the people are still left struggling and do not have enough resources to properly function as a nation. Wilson, having become invested in the plight of the poor and downtrodden in the nation, is disappointed by this result and despite receiving awards for his efforts he anticipates danger in the future because of the government's reticence to invest in the people.
Hanks is a fantastic actor but he is miscast here as he was in The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990). I understand that the concept of taking the man known as "America's Dad" and presenting him as a boozy womanizer with little moral integrity could be a clever one as it subverts our expectations but Hanks just doesn't carry it off. There is the feeling that he is always on the outside of the debauchery that occurs around him when he should the be sort of ‘good ole boy' who dives into promiscuous women and whiskey headfirst. His transformation from shallow politician to genuine humanitarian was also unbelievable as in one scene we see him look out at a giant slum with tears in his eyes but we are given little to support the idea that he would be moved by this suffering. Sorkin's glib screenplay wants us to support Wilson but his value as a character is told to us rather than being shown as at one point Gus Avkrakatos, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, goes as far as telling him "You're a very easy man to like congressman." We see no reason why he would be particularly appealing to anybody with his butt slapping and over the top Texas accent.
If Hanks is miscast Roberts would seem to suit her role as she often plays fake, sheltered characters who are so consumed by their own petty concerns that they cannot appreciate that there are larger issues in the world. Unlike Eat Pray Love (2010), which can be interpreted as a brilliant satire of the modern self help culture, this film does not expose her for her true awfulness instead attempting to play off all of her affectations with laughs. Hoffman gets the loudest role and in a year where he gave a great performance in The Savages (2007), a smaller film, he received an Academy Award nomination for this performance. He is the best of the three main characters but still feels fairly one note as he delivers every line in a deadpan tone and his job is to appear ‘disgusting'. He succeeds but for such an interesting actor this is an unchallenging role.
What the film posits is that Wilson's intentions became pure as time went on and what he did was honorable but it was the United States government that failed him and the Afghan people. In researching this further I discovered that this was historically inaccurate but even in watching the film I could sense that Wilson was not the well meaning fool portrayed here but something far more insidious. Sorkin does not have the integrity to confront this figure but sadly in trying to soften him he saps him of all intrigue.
I felt like this movie was more of Tom Hanks swooning with other girls more than a smart political film
Charlie Wilson's War is an entertaining, well written drama that brings to light an American hero that most people may never have heard of.
Wasn't bad but I didn't find it funny
Well written and acted. A great movie that I'm sure doesn't sit well with a lot of Americans. LOL
What a great movie, Hoffmann's performance as Gust steals the show, Tom Hanks is wonderful as Charlie Wilson, Julia Roberts is on point in one of her finest performances to date. A great story, turned into one hell of a film.
I love Aaron sorkin writing. It is fast, witty and no nonsense. The movie was gripping and interesting albeit a bit racist/supremist. Acting was spot on but the direction could have been better.
Base on true story but the tone is comedy which shouldn't be.
Charlie Wilson's War is a solid political satire. But I believe it falls short of similar satires like Wag the Dog and Man of the Year.
More Like A Mock Trial.
Charlie Wilson's War
Nichols is far from being authentic like some Spielberg's documentation but almost close enough to be gritty as Polanski. Either way, the result is a big mixed bag of feelings. You are left unsatisfied and a bit peckish for frankly anything, any sort of content to feed upon. The director Mike Nichols, clearly can't absorb the behemoth range of the screenwriter Aaron Sorkin's script on the screen. It is disappointing to see him fumble like such despite of having support from every possible directions. But I would blame Sorkin's take too. His game is actually a one long tennis match.
There is a great serve in the beginning act and a hefty rebound in its second one due to its previous powerful boost. But as it grows iterative, the audience gets tired and the pain is not felt in the head anymore. What was supposed to be a head scratching content is now a flimsy attempt to grasp the viewers. And these fatal attempts of Sorkin trying to get hold of something beyond the range of the storyline, turns it into a quirky foolish socialite world that is always read to negotiate but never shakes on it. The cast is undoubtedly the highlight of the film.
Tom Hanks playing once again a real persona gives a promising performance that is elevated by no one but Amy Adams as her secretary that literally helps him on tiny aspects of the film. Other supporting cast like Julia Roberts, Emily Blunt, Om Puri and John Slattery gets lost into words and never conquers them. The real crispy and juicy ingredient of the dish is Phillip Seymour Hoffman climbing the ladder along with waking people up. He is the unexpected chocolate delight in the cake, he is the cherry of this desert that comes in complementary and what might enrage you then, is that this is Charlie Wilson's War.