The true story of Congressman Charlie Wilson, who secretly worked with a rogue CIA agent to help the Afghan rebels defeat the Soviets in the 1980's.
Charlie Wilson's War (2007)
Directed by Mike Nichols
Written by Aaron Sorkin
Starring Tom Hanks, Amy Adams, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Slattery, Denis O'Hare, Ned Beatty
Based on the book by George Crile
Oscar Nominations - Best Supporting Actor
(Philip Seymour Hoffman)
In the 1980's, the Soviet Union was ramping up their invasion of the Middle East, beginning with Afghanistan. Despite wanting to stop the Soviets, the U.S. couldn't intervene directly without risking turning the Cold War into a real one. Also, most American politicians didn't give a shit anyway. Enter Charlie Wilson, congressman from Texas. He saw the horrors that the Afghan rebels were dealing with regularly, and he knew how to play the game in Congress to get the money where it needed to go. This film takes what could've been a dry, hard to understand story and turns it into a smart, witty, and regrettably overlooked biopic of a man whose intervention changed the world forever.
Tom Hanks plays Wilson, bringing his incomparable charm to a larger-than-life politician whose greased more wheels than WD-40. The show-stealer though is Philip Seymour Hoffman as volatile CIA agent Gust Avrakotos, whose introduction is a tirade against his boss that ends with him breaking the guy's window. He's now my favorite PSH performance. The story is almost unbelievable. Considering the massive paper trail, it's amazing the U.S. wasn't immediately implicated in actively arming enemies of the Soviet Union. We could've ended up in World War III so easily.
The toughest thing though is how we treated the Afghans once the fighting was done. We turned our backs on them, and that cold shoulder led to the creation of the Taliban. The ripple effect is real, and it began with Charlie Wilson trying to do the right thing in his own, misguided, highly illegal way. This film is a fun watch that never got the attention it rightly deserved. Here's hoping it gets rediscovered by an eager audience.