I watched Charlie Wilson's War this week, and it wasn't half bad. The movie stars Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Amy Adams, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The move is based on the true story of the covert U.S. war in Afghanistan in the 1980's, when we were trying to prop up the Afghan government and run the Soviets out of the country.
After Joanne, a rich and beautiful constituent (Roberts) impresses the gravity of the Afghan situation upon Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson (Hanks), he finds himself with a desire to help. Over the next several years, Charlie authorizes millions of U.S. dollars to quietly flow into Afghan armament and training, recruiting none other than Israel to help source weapons untraceable to America. The armament is successful, allowing Afghan troops to defeat the Soviets and drive them from the country. However, when further funding (in a much smaller amount) is then needed for infrstructure/rebuilding, Charlie is unable to marshall the support required to appropriate additional dollars. Everyone is "over" the Afghan war.
I thought the movie started incredibly slowly (though folks who enjoy seeing Hanks hot tub with naked starlets might think it was the most AWESOME. THING. EVER.). It took a little while for me to begin caring about the story. However, once Charlie attends a swanky fundraiser at Joanne's house, the viewer begins to understand how all of the pieces might come together.
There are several notable angles to this story:
1.) Charlie is the most unlikely of supporters for a strictly Muslim nation. He's a heavy drinker. He's an unabashed womanizer. He loves a good time. He's more thoroughly unprincipled, even by Western standards, than most.
2.) Charlie doesn't seem to really be a "mover and shaker" in D.C. However, he sits at the nexus of two committees uniquely positioned to appropriate funds for covert actions.
3.) The plan works. 'Nuff said. As Charlie is quoted at the end of the movie - the endgame (rebuilding the country) is where everything fell to pieces.
Performances are uniformly good in this. Hanks, as always, is rock solid. (There's an awesome scene between Hanks and Hoffman at the end of the film, with the two characters discussing "victory" on a balcony. Both are priceless. Hanks' face speaks volumes in this scene.)
Worth seeing. I'd give it a 3 out of 5 or so.