29 December 2007 | MichaelMargetis
Refreshing Political Satire
In one of the better movies of the year, Tom Hanks stars as Congressman Charlie Wilson in this sardonically funny and extremely relevant (given reasonably current events) historical comedy-drama surrounding the 1980s Afghan/Soviet fiasco. The Soviets were attacking Afghanistan killing hundreds of people. Why should anyone care? People are dying, right? No, the reason the United States got involved through Charlie Wilson was because the Afghans, in fear they would get blown to sh_t, started illegally coming into Pakistan which in turn p_ssed Pakistani President Mohammad Zia ul-Haq off. Charlie Wilson in an effort to fix this situation teamed up with the sixth richest woman and religious fanatic in Texas, Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts) and a amusing and robust American spy for the CIA, Gust Avrakotos (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to help supply Afghans with high-tech weapons to destroy Soviet fight air-craft that would try and attack their land.
Although certainly not a serious Oscar contender for Best Picture, 'Charlie Wilson's War' is probably one of the best of the many political films of the year. Academy Award Winner Mike Nichols provides solid directing as to be expected while Emmy Award Winner Aaron Sorkin (Sport's Night, The West Wing) provides a remarkable screenplay that near-flawlessly balances comedy and drama. The acting is great for the most part as well. Tom Hanks delivers his best and most enjoyable performance since his 2000 Oscar-nominated turn as a FedEx worker stranded on a tropical island in 'Cast Away'. Hanks takes a slimy character like Wilson and with his trademark charm turns him into a likable guy. Amy Adams and Ned Beatty are reliable as always, but the real stand-out performance of the film is from Philip Seymour Hoffman. Arguably the finest actor working in the film industry today, Hoffman takes a small supporting role and upstages everyone around him. From his first scene where he's screaming at his boss before violently breaking his window, Hoffman sucks you in. The only disappointing cast member is unsurprisingly overrated Hollywood starlet Julia Roberts. Hamming her way through yet another movie, Roberts' overbearing and over-the-top portrayal of a rich Texas oil woman hits all the wrong notes and is at most times flat-out annoying. At 97 minutes, the movie is short and sweet, and that isn't to say it doesn't drag at some points but when it does drag it's for a very brief amount of time.
In conclusion, 'Charlie Wilson's War' is not a perfect film by any means, but it's certainly worth a look. Grade: B+