Charlie Wilson’s War

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

“Charlie Wilson’s War” is one of those movies that was released just in time to be eligible for the Academy Awards. It’s got a great cast with three Oscar winners (Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Phillip Seymour-Hoffman), a storied director in Mike Nichols and a rather interesting storyline as well. So what’s not to like? Not much. Nichols, who has helmed two of my favorite movies in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “The Graduate” certainly hasn’t lost his touch behind the camera. And, lest we forget, also took yet another turn at politics a decade ago with the entertaining “Primary Colors”. The collaboration of Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts was an interesting twist as well. For as long as these two powerhouses have been in the public eye, they’ve yet to actually star in a movie together. And, let’s face it, timing is everything and in an election year it’s a nice change of pace to reflect back on a time when things weren’t so needlessly complex. Or were they?

Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) is a charismatic congressman from Texas who loves the finer things in life. He’s divorced, loves his booze and has the innate ability to bed just about any woman he so desires. His district requires very few things of him, mainly they just want their “guns and churches” according to Wilson. However, Charlie’s eyes are opened when he takes a trip to Afghanistan and sees the conditions that the people live in. Facing the threat of the Soviets with little more than sticks and stones to fight them with, Wilson embarks on a crusade to help the Afghanistan’s fight oppression. And Charlie Wilson is one of the few that can do it. With the help of a rebel CIA agent (Phillip Seymour-Hoffman) and the funding of a Texas millionaire (Julia Roberts), Wilson has the pull, the charm and the resources to supply a country with enough arms to successfully fight off an entire country.

I have to admit that I really enjoyed “Charlie Wilson’s War” and even the usually buggy Julia Roberts does give a pretty decent performance. Hanks isn’t necessarily at the top of this game, but he’s reliable and tries to exude as much confidence as he can in the role. The real scene-stealer is Phillip Seymour-Hoffman who was nominated for yet another Oscar for his role as Gust Avrakotos. Hoffman seems to have the quick wit and banter with some of his co-stars and the dry, dead-pan sense of humor that really gives the role some, pardon the pun, character. I have no idea how historically accurate the movie is, but based on my limited readings, this movie does hit pretty close to home. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin is back in form from his “West Wing” and “A Few Good Men” days and it’s so nice when a cast works as well as it does here. In an election year we need all the levity we can get and “Charlie Wilson’s War” fits the bill very nicely.

Video: How does it look?

I have to admit that I really enjoyed “Charlie Wilson’s War” and even the usually buggy Julia Roberts does give a pretty decent performance. Hanks isn’t necessarily at the top of this game, but he’s reliable and tries to exude as much confidence as he can in the role. The real scene-stealer is Phillip Seymour-Hoffman who was nominated for yet another Oscar for his role as Gust Avrakotos. Hoffman seems to have the quick wit and banter with some of his co-stars and the dry, dead-pan sense of humor that really gives the role some, pardon the pun, character. I have no idea how historically accurate the movie is, but based on my limited readings, this movie does hit pretty close to home. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin is back in form from his “West Wing” and “A Few Good Men” days and it’s so nice when a cast works as well as it does here. In an election year we need all the levity we can get and “Charlie Wilson’s War” fits the bill in every sense of the word.

Audio: How does it sound?

“Charlie Wilson’s War” isn’t really about the audio, in fact I was so interested in the film that I really nearly forgot that I was supposed to be listening for anything that would blow me away audio-wise. It’s a fairly standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mix with very little, if any, surround effects that really bring out the mix. The main draw is the dialogue of which there is a lot and though we get to hear Julia Roberts’ accent slip in an out, it’s not a bad mix at all. As I’ve said in previous reviews, this suits its purpose here plain and simple an that’s about all we can ask for.

Supplements: What are the extras?

There aren’t a plethora of extras here, in fact we only get two featurettes: “The Making of Charlie Wilson’s War'” which is your run-of-the-mill featurette and the more intriguing “Who is Charlie Wilson” with interviews with the man himself as well as Mike Nichols, Tom Hanks and Joanne Herring (Roberts’ character). We get a look at some behind the scenes footage as well an insight into what makes Wilson tick and how he can still attract the ladies.

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