Charlie Wilson's War (2007) Poster

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I did not like this film, unlike many uncritical viewers
davylevine19 May 2012
This film is unbelievably biased. It is pure anti-Soviet cold-war drivel and it is historically inaccurate. Robert Gates says that the CIA began giving aid to Islamic fighters in Afghanistan months **before** the Soviet invasion. Jimmy Carter signed an order on July 3, 1979 to give aid to the Mujahedeen. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap. "The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border," Zbigniew wrote to President Carter, ...we gave to the USSR its Vietnam War". Charlie Wilson's importance is wildly blown way out of proportion. The real-life Wilson had always been a right wing government good-old-boy who liked war. He was a commie-hating cold-war warrior. In the film we are lead to think that Wilson was simply a good time loving, womanizing, good old boy Congressman that never really grew up until he saw in person poor Afghan refugees: themselves poorly drawn caricatures of Afghan citizens. At this moment in the film Wilson changed and found a righteous cause. Born again Charlie!! Pure Hollywood nonsense! The real Wilson was not a nice guy. He was a friend of Nicaraguan tyrant Anastasio Samoza. Wilson's buddy in the movie (Philip Seymour Hoffman's character) is based on the CIA operative Gust Avrakotos. Army colonels led a coup in Greece in the 1960s; Avrakotos was the CIA main contact with the totally horrible fascist regime. Avrakotos fled Greece in the late 70s, with a very nasty reputation. The consequences of this cold war game are ignored by this crappy Hollywood movie. The weapons the U.S. supplied the Mujahedeen were used to wage a lengthy, bloody civil war in Afghanistan. Reagan's claim that the Afghan fighters were the moral equivalent of America's founding fathers is absurd. More brainless propaganda. Half the CIA money went to the monster Gulbaddin Hekmatyar, who in his youth threw acid in the face of an unveiled women. The CIA and US government would ally with anybody against the USSR. The terrorists received Stinger missiles, US Army training, and lots of money. The Taliban and the group that came to be known as Al-Qaida came from the Afghan civil war and were taught by the USA how to fight. There was little real concern for the fate of Afghanistan and its people. Washington never cared about the Afghan people in the first place ... and they still don't care. They are just pawns in The Great Game. The movie is a formulaic cliché, with it's warped fixation on the importance of the individual and its disregard for facts. Most Americans -- and reviewers here -- apparently take movies like this seriously, but this kind of crap makes the USA a joke to the rest of the world.
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Excellent and faithful adaptation of the best-selling book.
Robert A. Nowotny22 December 2007
It doesn't happen very often, but occasionally one man can make a difference -- a big difference.

George Crile's 2003 best seller, CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR, is a fascinating and eye-opening account of the most unlikely "difference maker" imaginable. A relatively obscure Congressman from the Second District of Texas, "Good Time Charlie" was known more for his libertine lifestyle than his libertarian legislation. Likable and licentious (even for a politician), Charlie Wilson served his constituency well since the good folks of Lufkin only really wanted two things, their guns and to be left alone. It's Easy Street replete with his bevy of beltway beauties known, appropriately enough, as Charlie's Angels.

When asked why his entire office staff was composed of attractive, young aides his response is a classic, "You can teach 'em to type, but you can't teach 'em to grow tits." No argument there.

But even the most rakish rapscallion has a conscience lurking somewhere underneath, and for Charlie Wilson the unimaginable atrocities being committed in Afghanistan moved him to muster his entire political savvy toward funding the utter, humiliating defeat of the Russian military and, possibly, to even help hasten the end of the Cold War as a result. Fat chance, huh?

Under the skillful direction of Mike Nichols and a smart, snappy screenplay by Adam Sorkin, CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR is a sparkling, sophisticated satire that chronicles the behind-the- scene machinations of three colorful characters comprising "Charlie's Team."

The on-screen "Team," is composed of three marvelous actors with four (4) Academy Awards and nine (9) nominations between them. Charlie is beautifully portrayed by Tom Hanks in a solid, slightly understated fashion that is among his best work in years. He's aided, abetted and abedded by Joanne Herring, a wealthy Houston socialite played by the still-slinky Julia Roberts. Hey, why else have the bikini scene than to let the world know this? By all accounts Ms. Roberts looks good and holds her own, but the screenplay never gives us even a hint why Kabul and country is so important to her character. Maybe the two Afghan hounds usually by her side know -- but we as an audience never do. As for the third member of the "Team," Philip Seymour Hoffman steals every scene he appears in as Gust Aurakotos, a smart, street- wise (i.e. non Ivy League graduate) CIA malcontent who knows the score -- both in the Agency's boardroom and in Wilson's bedroom.

For the Mujahideen to succeed, the most important assistance the U.S. can provide is the ability to shoot down the dreaded MI-21 helicopter gunships which rule the skies. This takes money, lots of money, and eventually "Charlie's Team" covertly coerces those in Congress to fund the effort to the tune of $1 billion dollars for advanced weaponry to arm the Afghan rebels. This includes top-of-the-line, state-of-the-art anti-aircraft and anti-tank rockets as well as other highly sophisticated killing devices. Nasty, nasty stuff.

That this kind of multi-billion dollar illicit activity can and does take place behind Congressional doors is truly alarming. Every American should see this movie or read this book because it reveals a truly frightening aspect of the business-as-usual political scene rarely seen outside the walls of our very own government. Oh momma, I wish it weren't so...

Even though the initial outcome for "Team Charlie" was an unqualified success, the unimaginable, unanticipated final result is that these sophisticated weapons are now used against our troops by the Taliban and others. Since the funding was entirely "covert," the young generation in this part of the world has no idea the fall of Soviet oppression and the end to Russian barbarity was the direct result of American intervention. Yes, once the Russkies left, so did our aid -- zip for schools, zip for infrastructure, zip on maintaining meaningful relationships with the Afghan people. As a result, the overall consequence is an unmitigated disaster -- it's like the forerunner to "Mission Accomplished."

As Nichol's film so pointedly points out, "The ball you've set in motion can keep bouncing even after you've lost interest in it." Mike Krzyzewski knows this, Eva Longoria Parker knows this, little Lateesha in Lafayette knows this, but the typical American politician doesn't. So we go from good guys to bad guys because we couldn't let the world know we were the good guys. Talk about a Catch-22 (another Mike Nichols film).

Perhaps Charlie Wilson said it best, "We f&%ked up the end game."

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markup31426 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Tom Hanks bring me good expectations but when I saw propaganda I got disgusted right away. I was fighting that war myself and I remember clearly that I had some afghan friends on our side as well. Also communism was not horrible especially under Brezhnev rule(those were not 1930's anymore and not civil war in 1920's). I see antirussian propaganda everywhere these days but this disgusted me more then others because you show taliban like some sort of freedom fighters(but now you view them different aren't you?). Those freedom fighters take skin off alive Russian soldiers. Also russians never dropped children toy mines that's piteful lies. And the pilots scene also was arrogant "Hey let's hunt some woman and children. Btw I cheated on my wife. Happy hunting." Just like CIA spread lies during the war Hollywood spreads lies 20 years after the war. USA has honor or what?

My friend died in that war he was a pilot and I was not happy when I was at his funeral. And this movie doesn't make me happy either it makes me offended by arrogance of Hollywood and US government.
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Funny, sad, and ultimately frightening - a film that makes you both laugh and weep at the state of the world.
flechette15 December 2007
Mike Nichols in finest form. I was not a fan of "Closer", so it's refreshing to see him again right back on top with this comedy set in the darkest of circumstances. Just one slip in tone could have wrecked this compelling picture but Nichols and his very strong A-list cast never put a foot wrong in this biopic of a deeply flawed but utterly compelling Congressman.

Philip Seymour Hoffman as usual is scintillating and brilliant - here playing a damaged but ultra-smart CIA manipulator, and it is in the exchanges between Hanks and Hoffman's characters where the comedy soars. Rarely is movie humour laugh-out loud and also smart... This hits the spot time after time with a biting satirical edge that makes you both laugh and weep at the state of the world (often simultaneously).

One other major plus is the length of the picture. The film is based on George Crile's fat book of the same title. The temptation for screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (his claim to fame is "The West Wing") must have been to make a fat movie, but what we get is a breath-taking 90 odd minutes of great story with sweeping implications.

This film deserves to be seen and to be recognized for finding an extraordinary balance between the darkest of dark subject matter and the lightness of touch of it's sparkling witty script - even if it does flunk the obvious link between the help that Herring and Wilson provide and the ultimate consequences (9/11).
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A Sly, Sophisticated Piece of Film-making
colinbarnard-126 December 2007
I like Tom Hanks, and he is one of few actors who will draw me into the theatre regardless of any misgivings I may have concerning the film. I worried about Mr. Hanks return to "light comedy" as this is the arena where he made the transition from TV to film- remember "Big"? Well, "Charlie Wilson's War" is not light comedy. It is political satire, and extremely well-written political satire at that. The script is the star of this film, and the word-smithing by Aaron Sorkin is some of the best on offer this year.

Mike Nicols holds the entire escapade together, delivering a film that zips along in a very quick 90 minutes (timing is everything in comedy, and nothing is ever funny if it drags). Nicols' choice in sets and lighting are also very reminiscent of '70's and '80's TV, a move used deliberately to root the piece in period.

The return to the use of model work and stock photography over digital special effects also enhances the retro look and believability. Note to the production designers in your choice of stock footage: I know the difference between an F-16 and a MiG, and a Bell and a Hind. But that may have been part of the joke, too.

I saw this film in Philadelphia. It was interesting to watch and listen to the audience NOT get the historical references to their own history. History tends to repeat because the recidivists have forgotten what happened the first time around.

Kudos to both Mr. Hanks and that chameleon Phillip Seymore Hoffman. Sorkin's script is brought to life by these actors, and the entire production team is on the top of their game.

Heartily recommended.
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Messing around with destiny
Andrea Orsini9 February 2008
Aaron Sorking raises the same questions as Shakespeare did or does. How could they possibly know so much about the inner workings of palace life. Here like in The West Wing, Sorkin opens surprising doors that are hardly a shock but seem ton confirm our worst fears. Everything is so casual and at the same time so directly responsible for so many people's lives. A puffy Tom Hanks tells us one way or another that things can be manipulated with semi pure intentions but without weighing the consequences and Julia Roberts in a blond southern hairdo reminds us of the powers harbored in the sidelines. The subject is serious but the treatment is light, intelligent but light. Philip Seymour Hoffman, as the invisible middle man, steals every scene he is in, just like Charles Laughton did in every movie he was in.The dialogue is fast but not fast enough for us not to catch up and discover that this is not an ordinary comedy. The seemingly casual pace filled with strokes of wit and provocation grants another badge of honor in the Mike Nichol's collection.
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Thoroughly Entertaining & Surprisingly Amusing Film
Black Narcissus11 December 2007
Told in flashback, the film opens in 1989 with Charlie being given award for his role in the defeat of Communism. I must admit my heart sank as at the thought of have to endure yet another earnest, somewhat boring and overlong life story. How wrong was I, because that short scene is as close as the film ever gets to boring.

The film is full of entertaining & amusing set ups and cracking dialogue in some of the most unexpected places. The next scene after the Awards ceremony is Charlie in a Hot-Tub with some naked women and a guy trying to get him to invest in a TV programme. Another rather amusing scene is about 3 quarters into the film comprises Charlie, a group of his rather sexy Secretaries, Phillip Seymour Hoffmans CIA Man and a bottle of Whisky. As to dialogue what about this for a line, "The Senator says, He can teach us to type but can't teach us to grow Tits.". OK, School-boyish I know but the film is laced with great lines.

As to performances well Phillip Seymour Hoffman as usual steals every scene he's in. Hanks is OK but surprisingly to me anyway was Julia Roberts who is very good in the role of a rather eccentric Texas Oil Millionairess.

Charlie Wilson's War is one of the best non Musician Bio-pics in a long while as well as being that rare thing a film that entertains, amuses as well as informs all in equal measure.
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I Walked Out
Bolesroor3 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Yes, I walked out. I don't suffer stupidity very well. I made it one hour and ten minutes into this picture before the death-blow forced me from the theater: Charlie celebrating the end of the cocaine investigation.

"It's over!" he shouts, his nymphette secretaries swarming him in joy. "Technically I did cocaine in the Cayman Islands but that's out of American jurisdiction." Yes, it's the slimy lecherous alcoholic politician who just saved his hide on a loophole. Our hero, ladies & gentleman... And what's worse is how director Mike Nichols hid Charlie's crime from the audience in much the same way real politicians hide their crimes from their constituents: delicately-worded dialogue and deceptive maneuvering. It's similar to the way we're asked to find Charlie's whoring adorable because we never see his wife. Out of sight, out of mind... right?

Sorry. I find the character loathsome, mainly because we're asked to consider him a hero. We've come a long way from Mr. Smith's trip to Washington if an adulterous coke-snorting lush is the new Lincoln.

What's even worse about this movie is its political naiveté: There are no "good guys" or "bad guys" in war... it's all a matter of where you're standing. And what's worse, this "war" is nothing more than a product of the United States' profitable wargames pastime: arming and funding a country or cause to fight our wars for us only to turn around and consider said country or cause a threat, at which we point we bomb them to oblivion and rebuild their country using our contractors. Sound familiar? It's just the life-cycle of the military/industrial complex. Hardly heroic...

I didn't have to stay to the end to see where the picture was heading: Hanks becomes a hero by "getting involved" and "saving his soul" and the entire Cold War is brought to an end by a Congressman, a CIA agent and a wealthy Texas socialite.

I usually love science-fiction.

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They neglected to connect the dots!
bobbie-1616 July 2008
The filmmakers neglected to connect the dots--that is, the sequence of events and choices that led from Charlie Wilson and the anti-Soviet mujaheddin to Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden and eventually to 9/11. The filmmakers of course neglect to tell us the back-story--why were the Soviets in Afghanistan?--but that omission pales in comparison to their failure to reveal that support for Islamicist extremists in Afghanistan in the name of rabid anti-communism ultimately strengthened the hand of anti-western forces and was a big contributing factor to the mess that we find ourselves in today (9/11, terrorist networks, a prolonged ground war in Afghanistan, etc.). Because these consequences are not spelled out, the movie leaves the viewer feeling sympathetic to Mr. Wilson (hey, check out his latest projects on the Internet) instead of seeing him as an individual whose actions were contrary to the best interests of his country and the West as a whole.
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Charlie Wilson's War Movie Review
GoneWithTheTwins20 December 2007
Charlie's Wilson's War demonstrates with deft veracity just how futile wars can be, especially to the very people who spend countless hours and finances to fund them. Virtuoso performances and remarkably memorable characters teamed with a riotously sarcastic script catapult the film, helmed by the continuously unpredictable Mike Nichols, to the top of the year's best. Politics has never been so much fun.

Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) is a Texas congressman who is credited with almost single-handedly winning the Cold War. Hanging around plenty of drugs, women and scotch, he also takes an unexpected interest in the events in Afghanistan and the terrors of the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Enlisting the help of Gust Avrakotos (Philip Seymour Hoffman) a renegade CIA covert mission expert and Joanne (Julia Roberts), a wealthy socialite, he raises money to provide Afghanistan with the rocket launchers and antitank weaponry they need to cause serious damage to Russian military. Eventually by the end of the 80s the Cold War would come to an end, and the funds would immediately be cut, thereby removing all help for the fledgling country to rebuild and recoup.

The acting is exquisite, although it's to be expected from the more than accomplished cast. A large part of that however, should be attributed to the script, which allows each character to be undeniably well-developed and memorable. And a hearty helping of that credit goes to the novel of the same name, which is hilariously honest. Tom Hanks delivers yet another unequaled performance as Charlie Wilson, the man who did so much for so many and yet still remains relatively unknown. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Gust, a character that is vividly boffo in both his physicality and his wry cynicism; the inimitable Hoffman once again shows superb range in the characters he portrays. Julia Roberts is perhaps the only weak link of the film, with her generic snobbish character and not-subtle-enough accent. And then there's Wilson's "jailbait" squad of young secretaries that scamper about to keep him happy. Led by the always delightful Amy Adams, each supporting role has its mirthful moments.

Defeating the Soviet Union was not an easy task, especially considering the many conflicting goals between the various political leaders. "Why is Congress saying one thing and doing nothing?" queries a disgruntled politician. "Tradition mostly", returns Wilson. Everyone appears to want the Cold War to end, yet a blind eye is being turned to the atrocities taking place in Afghanistan. It takes a trip to the war-torn refugee camps in Pakistan to motivate Wilson, as well as with his main financial source Doc Long (Ned Beatty). Wilson uses strategic ties with committees to raise funding of weaponry in Afghanistan from $5 million to $10 million with a simple command, but the president of Pakistan scoffs at the idea of winning a war for such a trivial amount. By the end of the Wilson campaign, $1 billion is sent to the Mujahedin to shoot down Russian helicopters - the first step toward victory, as Wilson predicted. Beyond the scope of the film, the unresolved turmoil in Afghanistan led to further, less ignorable problems, which Wilson presumably foresaw.

During the course of Charlie Wilson's War, the main characters travel from the United States to Pakistan to Afghanistan to Jerusalem to Egypt, but wherever they go, sarcasm always follows. There's a surprising amount of comedy in the film, considering the political undertones are generally serious. Hoffman provides jokes with almost every exchange of dialogue, as does Hanks, with his naturally witty woman-chasing ideals. A scene early on featuring Gust being continually ushered in out of Wilson's office as he tries to straighten out a legal issue with his posse of gorgeous gals ("you can teach 'em to type, but you can't teach 'em to grow tits") reminds me of a slapstick routine from the Marx Brothers.

With the press focusing on the drug allegations against Wilson, instead of the important issues of the Cold War, and the conflicting desire of officials to budget their help, it's clear that by the end of the film, the politicians are still oblivious to what's really necessary. And since the screenplay is so quick-witted and astute, some audience members may not be able to keep up with all of the dialogue-intensive events. But, as demonstrated by the politicians who are ignorant as to the difference between Pakistan and Afghanistan, it's essentially another argument to support Charlie Wilson's point.

  • Mike Massie
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America's success and shame
lastliberal22 December 2007
I quit watching "The West Wing" after Aaron Sorkin quit writing and producing. It just wasn't the same. Imagine my thrill at seeing a film that he wrote again. It has been a long time - The American President, A Few Good Men. His script was a beautiful blend of humor and tragedy. He made a compelling story believable, and made me weep at the same time.

Tom Hanks was incredible as a small-time Texas Congressman whose constituents only wanted lower taxes and to keep their guns. Not a hard job, so he had plenty of time to fool around - and that he did. His office staff looked as if he were at the Playboy Mansion. Like he reportedly said, "You can teach them to type, but you can't teach them to grow tits." Despite his sexist attitude, which fits right in with a Texas Congressman, they were fiercely loyal, especially his aide, Amy Adams (Junebug & former Hooters girl).

Now, add a rich Texas socialite who wants something done in Afghanistan, played perfectly by Julia Roberts; and a pain-in-his-boss's-ass CIA agent, superbly done by Philip Seymour Hoffman, and you have a movie well worth watching.

Outstanding writing, and superlative acting, and a story that needed to be told. What more do you want at the movies?
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Refreshing Political Satire
Michael Margetis29 December 2007
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+
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Bad Piece of Film-making
acglobalfilms25 December 2007
It is more than a disappointment to see that the director who directed "Whos'e Afraid of Virgina Woolf" could resort himself directing such a mediocre script. I also find it offensive to draw parallels between the action of Charlie Wilson and the collapse of a superpower, which is supposed the be the motto of the story. The sad truth is that the result of Wilson's actions is not the end of Russia, which in fact is being rebuilt as an economic and military powerhouse, but 9/11 with all it's consequences. The film makes no such comparisons and, hence, becomes ridden with clichés rooted in one-sided perspective and an extremely dangerous superficial look at the Afgan - Soviet war. Charlie Wilson is not an American hero, but a fund-raiser for mujahadeen terrorists who in fact are killing the Americans oversees now. I had a very high expectation before this film was coming out, because I thought well finally someone even addresses the issue of Wilson's direct involvement in what eventually became the springboard of Muslim radicalism. But after watching it, I could not help being in a state of "shock and awe" without awe, of course. There is no historic justice in the film, and if there is anything commendable about movie, it is acting.
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America saves the world....again.
fczenit1 January 2008
When the American movie industry tries to critically look at their own government they make damn sure it looks good even when it's bad.

The film does 1 thing right it demonstrates perfectly what is wrong with the American politics. The motto seems to be to f**k with whoever it takes to get things done!!! Mix an American Congressmen, a CIA agent, a Jew and an Arab... just to f**k the Ruskies. Thanks to US for giving us Osama Bin Laden.

The disappointment of the film comes in the face of muddling up the issues: using imagery of Afghan children with no arms and the stories of soviet atrocities and then making a blatant attempt to suggest a link between those and the reasoning behind the American help. Every sensible person knows why the $1,000,000,000 was raised... not the dying Afghani children that's for sure.

As usual the serious issues are covered into facade of bullshit dialogue. "Here is to you, you M***r F*****s" Hoffmam chants at the end, all that's missing is the American flag in the background and the stupid military solutes. The films can not help but leave the aftertaste of the feeling of American pride and glee on how we (the Americans) have saved the world... once again. Not even the last 5 minutes of the film can save it, where an attempt is being made to stop praising yourself and wake up to the fact that its just another American F**k up.

The acting and editing was good though.
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Say What?
dgeridoo1 January 2008
Very curious that Nichols and Hanks would team up for this, obviously they believe it. Strange because it should carry the title "Charlie Wilson's War the Lie.

How could the time frame leave out the real history that while ridding Afganistan of the Russians the CIA was providing support for the Taliban, and today's World of Terrorism. In 1990, Bin Laden went home to Saudi Arabia as a hero of jihad, who along with his Arab legion, "had brought down the mighty superpower" of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

To avoid any connection to Osama Bin Laden is to say again, Hollywood cares little for Historical Truth. Charlie Wilson, a patriot, hardly, more like a congressman gone amok.
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Simply one of the worst movies ever!!!
alexei_jur14 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I expected so much more from this movie…A great cast, based on a true story, high current IMDb rating.

WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT!!! Sadly enough, what it all boiled down to, is a disgusting display of American/CIA propaganda, obnoxious American self-righteousness and total lack of respect for human life.

Frankly, I lost the count of how many times the characters in this movie shout out things like: "Kill the Russians!!!", "F*kc the Russians!!!" etc. Soviet army is portrayed as a gang of blood-thirsty butchers, specifically hunting down Afghan children to molest, disfigure and kill them in the worst way possible.

To say that this movie is just a fiction of some sick and twisted mind, is not to say anything. The propaganda content in this movie is so high that even Goebbels would be impressed.

I sat through the whole movie, waiting for some kind of twist, a moment where the director would display his ability to actually think clear, a moment that would show the real consequences of the atrocities committed by CIA and Charlie Wilson. But I waited in vain. This moment never came. It was like having a never-ending nightmare.

I felt literally sick after watching this movie. I realized that I just wasted more than 2 hours of my life on one of the worst movies ever made. What made it even worse, is the high rating of "Charlie Wilson's war" at IMDb, as this indicates that there are pour souls out there, who actually felt for this fraud, swallowed the poisonous propaganda, without even realizing that they have been scammed and damaged for life.
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Cheap Shots
Darth Vader21 July 2008
Things began very well with this film, I found myself enamoured with the characters immediately and the backdrop drew me in. I was happily settled down into what I hoped would be an engaging look at a controversial part of American history. After all I knew the subject matter and I also knew it would be delicate but I seemed to be in capable hands.

Unfortunately I began to notice a distinct void in the proceedings. Where I expected political commentary I found emptiness, where I expected satire I found only flag waving anti-communist propaganda that should have been put to bed 20 years ago.

The scene with the two soviet pilots discussing their own indiscretions, briefly painting them as immoral, before they are shot down and given what they deserve. If this was satire, it was far to subtle for me, it seemed to be from the 'commando comic' school of script writing. War films, nowadays, should not be giving us two dimensional characterisations of the enemy.

Long lingering looks at the traumas of the Afghans suffered under the soviet invasion, how does this relate to the men of power and money in Washington and are they really trying to tell us this was ANY part of their decision to provide so much financial aid. Lies about booby trapped toys for Afghan kids, perpetuating soviet myths 20 years after they are relevant, do we really need to be doing this now.

There is so much macho dialogue and warmongering in this film that the crux of the plot line is practically ignored. Who cares if they 'fucked up the end game' when Seymour Hoffman, can say 'fuck em' to the commies at the end of the film.

A film can be be found wanting in any single element and I would still give it a good rating. This film has great acting, characters, dialog and a wonderful sense of time and place. It is severely lacking backbone, however, and despite the best intentions of its subject matter, I cannot see past that. For days afterwards I told myself, it was just a very clever satire, but there is only so long I could keep spinning that line to myself. The film is a militaristic wolf in a lefty liberal sheep's clothing.
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I Hated This Film for political, moral and aesthetic reasons
Richard Nathan13 January 2008
SPOILER - This film gives away plot points and discusses the ending. I hated this film - mostly for political reasons, but also for moral and aesthetic reasons. Politically, this film glorified war and military technology - blowing things up real good. We are led to cheer as the music swells and the Afghans use our weapons to blow the Ruskies to bits. And no U.S. soldiers put their lives on the line - so it's a fun war. Aesthetically, there isn't a touch of real human emotion in the film, just smug, privileged people being sarcastic, feeling superior, and doing whatever they want regardless of the consequences. And speaking of consequences, the film only makes a few small hints at what the arming of the Afghans actually led to. I had read an earlier draft of this script, and it ended on 9/11 - with Charlie Wilson realizing that things had gone horribly wrong. But that wouldn't leave the audience feeling good. This is a feel good movie about killing Ruskies. And it made me sick.
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A Bittersweet Political Comedy
M. J Arocena8 February 2008
Nice to see a comedy for grown ups. Masterfully structured by Aaron Sorkin via Mike Nichols's own mastery. Mr Nichol's mastery is to present characters in all their shocking truth, from the sad and riveting Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in "Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf" to the sad and riveting Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Jude Law and Natalie Portman in "Closer". In "Charlie Wilson's War" the shocking truth is outside the characters and the sad and riveting Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams are at the service of something else, it's personal only to a point. Hanks has to bury his brilliance in single malts and Julia Roberts throws parties and introduces characters with blatant straightforwardness. Amy Adams witnesses and exist as a character, witnessing. An insurmountable task that Miss Adams manages to surmount, beautifully. It is Philip Seymour Hoffman's Gus with a t, however, that monopolized my attention. His character may not be a first but it is a first the way that Hoffman presented him to us. Someone who survives the disregard with which he's treated by the absolute conviction that he's smarter than all of them put together. Hoffman is superb. The pacing of the tale helps enormously not to fall in a myriad of useless questions. A sharp, short, smart, sad comedy and when was the last time I was able to say that?
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Ugh! This is Julia Roberts' worst movie.
PWNYCNY21 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Has Hollywood forgotten that the Cold War is over? That Russia is not the enemy? That the Soviet Union was fighting the groups who today are our enemies ... who hate us ... who call us infidels and other vile names ... and who we're now fighting in Afghanistan? If anything, we should have helped the Russians fight those maniacs posing as so-called freedom fighters. Under the pretext of telling a story about an unknown alcoholic, glib politician who miraculously develops a sense of duty to humanity ... while in a hot-tub with coke-snorting prostitutes ... this movie takes direct aim at the Soviet Union (i.e. the Russians). How dumb is that? Russia as the enemy? Duh! Oh, they were communists? Was that the problem? If this movie is some kind of anti-commie tirade, then the movie is way too late. There's no more Soviet Union! Everybody happy now? Is the world now a better, safer place? After the events of September 11, 2001, any country that attacks those groups that hate us and want to harm us is our allie. We would have been a lot better off if we had let the Russians stay in Afghanistan. Better them than us having to fight those criminal fanatics. Bashing the Soviet Union over their intervention in Afghanistan, which borders in their country, would be like bashing the Soviet Union for their actions in the Battle of Berlin in the closing days of World War Two. If the Soviets had not been willing to administer the final coup-de-grace against the Germans, WE would have had to do it and who knows how many thousands of American soldiers would have been lost. That we actually covertly aided and abetted groups in Afghanistan that openly hate us is absolutely amazing. Ugh!

Also, neither Tom Hanks or Julia Roberts are particularly believable in this movie. Tom Hanks as a corrupt, alcoholic Texas Congressman? I don't think so. Julia Roberts as a rich Texas Southern Baptist trying to sound like a female Lyndon Johnson? I don't think so. If the movie works for you, fine. But any movie that rags on the Russians is just missing the point. Russia is not the enemy, and while they were involved in Afghanistan, neither was the Soviet Union.

Whose idea was it to make the incredibly beautiful Julia Roberts look like a grotesque, overly made-up, two-bit hooker?

Does Charlie Wilson EVER stop drinking?

By the way, I wonder how we would like it if certain radical groups were located right across our border. In 1962 we were ready to start a nuclear war over the presence of missiles in Cuba, and Cuba doesn't even border on the United States. So why should the Soviet Union have acted any differently? And now that we have troops and helicopters in Afghanistan, do you think the Russians are now willing to help us?
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Sowing seeds of dissension between USA and Russia
Denis O.7 April 2008
Russians never dropped children's toys filled with explosives over Afghanistan, that never happened!!! Who did invention of that?? Hollywood portrays Russian army as horrible, dreadful troops of evil! That is disgusting!! United States President Jimmy Carter had accepted the view that "Soviet aggression" could not be viewed as an isolated event of limited geographical importance but had to be contested as a potential threat to the Persian Gulf region. The uncertain scope of the final objective of Moscow in its sudden southward plunge made the American stake in an independent Pakistan all the more important. A great deal of damage was done to the civilian children population by land mines.
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really awful
cyneller23 December 2007
I'm sure that the folks who made this movie think they're doing something wonderfully politically correct, because they manage to criticize U.S. wars in Afghanistan and particularly Iraq by suggesting that the U.S. does war well, but doesn't clean up afterward, thus sowing the seeds for future trouble. Furthermore, they do this without making Islamists the enemy AND without making Republicans the enemy, since it's the Republicans that are in office and are doing this supposedly great thing, bringing down the USSR by covertly supplying a war in Afghanistan.

But seriously now . . . do we really want a movie that repeatedly says "let's go kill some Russians!" like that's the greatest thing a red-blooded American can do? And are we supposed to find this congressman adorable because he surrounds himself with women with big hair and revealing clothes? Even his supposedly smart assistant, who is always dressed professionally, keeps looking at Charlie like he's just the most wonderful, handsomest, greatest guy around. As if she's Nancy Reagan to his Ronnie. Julia Roberts does a bang-up job in her role, but basically women are really demeaned in this movie, and it was really annoying.
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Huge Waste
Ferrari31 December 2007
The Soviet war in Afghanistan also known as the Soviet-Afghan War was a nine-year conflict involving Soviet forces supporting the Marxist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) government against the largely Islamic fundamentalist Mujahideen insurgents. The latter group found support from a variety of sources including the United States, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other Muslim nations in the context of the Cold War. The Islamists that fought also believed that they were responsible for the fall of the Soviet Union. Osama bin Laden, for example, was asserting the credit for "the collapse of the Soviet Union ... goes to God and the mujahidin in Afghanistan ... the US had no mentionable role," but "collapse made the US more haughty and arrogant."Following the Soviet invasion, the United States supported diplomatic efforts to achieve a Soviet withdrawal. U.S. contributions to the refugee program in Pakistan played a major part in efforts to assist Afghans in need. This cross-border humanitarian assistance program aimed to increase Afghan self-sufficiency and help Afghans resist Soviet attempts to drive civilians out of the rebel-dominated countryside. During the period of Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the U.S. provided about $3 billion in military and economic assistance to Afghans and the resistance movement."The CIA made a historic mistake in encouraging Islamic groups from all over the world to come to Afghanistan.' The US provided $3 billion for building up these Islamic groups, and it accepted Pakistan's demand that they should decide how this money should be spent
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morality mess in its most sneaky form
beregic20 April 2008
after hearing many positive thoughts of how funny this is and also because tom hanks(in his early performances i might add) i decided to see it.also because it deals with Afghanistan and overall American military and political presence in foreign countries. it took me less then 30 minutes to see where this goes and after completing it i came to the conclusion that this is nothing but a propagandistic feature to justify, to the American public , certain aspects of how the world SHOULD be run. i actually find it disgusting in a specific aspect: that of giving the "average" American politician an imagine of "well intentioned child" by admitting that mistakes are being made. but those mistakes are not apparently made out of political form but that of a "human" one. basically this tells me that "they" are just like us conveniently forgetting the huge amount of power and INFORMATION they hold and WITHOLD from the general public. i will not go in details since one has to make up his/her own mind about this.but the viewer using his own practical day to day observations make me confident that will see throw the whole facade made up here. if you remember the older movie "wag the dog" with Robert De Niro, you will see how that feature PREDICTED this one...simply amazing.

Julia Roberts and tom hanks give a GREAT performance, and i would have liked them if their intentions would have been honest. but there is that "something", which makes me believe that their names were used to make this look human and funny, and i wont be surprised if their paychecks were bigger then usual for this specific roles. Julia Roberts especially portrays one of the most dangerous, behind the scene, reality ; that of mixing politics and religion. true that the screenplay trays to put her character aside but just in "that" typical manner of actually giving it even more power to this specific faith based groups she represents. for some reasons it feels like the screenwriter condones the "positive" effects Inquisition has had apparently in the past. oh my...

tom hanks is sinking lower and lower in my opinion, simply capitalizing too much lately on his name as a "serious" drama actor ever since "castaway"("the terminal" was his last outstanding role for me).about his acting here, at time it seems that himself is not comfortable with the role he HAS to play because his sarcasm seems to be that of an actor knowing his own "lies".

from the point of production, there are many flaws and somehow they feel to me as intentioned (convulsive plot with convenient misses) in confusing the viewer and give him an idea that this could be too "complex" for him to understand.

overall , just be aware of the implications given here; while entertaining from a sarcastic point of view, this is not at all what was advertised as would be.
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Garbage is garbage...and so is Charlie Wilson's War
nedzepelin24 December 2007
The 3 stars are for Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Nothing else and no one else in this movie deserves even a wee smidgen of a star. Well, OK, Amy Adams deserves a wee smidgen, but the smidgenometer doesn't seem to be working, so I'll stick with 3. Tom Hanks...nothing. Julia Roberts...nothing. Mike you see a trend yet? Aaron Sorkin...OMG, not a chance.

I could rant on for several paragraphs about the way Charlie Wilson's War glosses over history, morality, legitimacy and so on, but I don't think any such rant could outweigh the gushing of Aaron Sorkin fans. The rest of you, beware.Spend your movie money elsewhere.

Still, if you're looking for a pithy comment, here's mine. You can put hot fudge sauce on a pile of garbage, but it changes nothing. Garbage is garbage and so is Charlie Wilson's War.
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