Sunday, January 13, 2008


As I expected, CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR (***1/2), from director Mike Nichols and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, was a lot of fun. I read the script a few years ago, and while the final big-screen rendering is different in many respects to the draft that I read, it's a rollicking political comedy nonetheless. Sorkin's rat-a-tat dialogue is still firmly in place, and under Nichols' patient, undemanding direction, the film is breezy, smart, loose. The story of Charlie Wilson (a sly Tom Hanks), a hard-partying Texas congressman with numerous high-profile connections who personally jumpstarted the arming of Afghan soldiers during the Soviet invasion in the late 80's, is almost so crazy in its details that it feels like a tall-tale. As written by Sorkin, who's masterful blend of dense political jargon and stylized comedy writing is impossible to match, CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR is a history lesson that never feels academic. The film entertains well more than it preaches, and Nichols keeps the film moving at a brisk pace, never pausing for a dull moment. Philip Seymour Hoffman steals the picture every time he's on screen with yet another incredible performance, this time as a beleagured CIA agent. It's another raging, intense, and criminally funny piece of acting from one of cinema's best talents. While I wished that the film had stuck closer to the original script that I read, CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR registers as one of the best of the recent political films to hit movie screens over the last year.


Breedlove said...

I finally got around the seeing this the other day and was hugely disappointed. definitely one of the big letdowns of the year for me. i am absolutely in love with julia roberts, and plan to make her my wife someday soon. there is no one sexier or more charming. but you have to use her the right way. she was miscast and dull in this...the movie itself, i just felt like, what was the point? they totally soft-balled the interesting political stuff - this is a rich story and there was all kinds of stuff they could have dug into...and they went for a safe little comedy. except it wasn't funny, or charming. i saw this as a doubleheader with 'i am legend' and much preferred the latter. i'm a big fan of hanks but he's lost his touch a bit, and this was a big disappointment for nichols coming of the masterpiece 'closer.'

Actionman said...

Wow, you like Julia waaaay more than I do...I have never understand her popularity and I find her to be distracting much of the time. That said, for what her role required, I thought she was fine (though he slipped in and out of that Texas accent more than once).

The original script that I read was better than the overall film but I still enjoyed it; found it to be both smart and entertaining and you did learn a lot without ever feeling like some smarty-pants was lecturing you.

At first I didn't think Hanks was well cast for the role but in the end I was reminded of how much I like him.

This wasn't a scathing political indictment or a polemic of some was a fun movie that decided to be entertainment first, and political statement second.

Again, the origianl script was a heavier, darker affair, and I might've preferred it in the long run to the final product.

Having said all that, I did still enjoy the movie. I will agree that Closer is a more accomplished film in some respects.

uncle fred said...

I agree with Breedlove. CW War was slooooow. The only reason to watch it was P.S. Hoffman. Otherwise alot of mediocre history with no end point.

Actionman said...

No end point? Really? Ummm...Osama Bin Laden. That's a pretty definitive end point if you ask