Charlie Wilson’s War – Review


There’s a beauty to hearing the words scripted by Aaron Sorkin, knowing that they always move at a pace that keeps every scene moving at rapid fire, and paired together with the direction of Mike Nichols, the results are truly nothing more than satisfying. For his final film, Mike Nichols leaves on a rather pleasing note and while it may not reach the heights that he has set behind in his past with classics like The Graduate or Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, it goes to show that throughout his career, he’s maintained a consistent level of quality from film to film and would never let anything have him stoop down.

Tom Hanks as congressman Charlie Wilson alongside Emily Blunt in Mike Nichols’s swan song, Charlie Wilson’s War.

What’s already clear about Charlie Wilson’s War is that it is indeed a film about Texas politician Charlie Wilson and how he managed to get America involved in the Afghan war, but with the time in which it had came out, what we’re presented here is a film about 9/11 and how the involvement with the Afghan war may indeed have been a mistake, one that could easily have been avoided. It’s clever how Mike Nichols and Aaron Sorkin go ahead and bite at patriotism, by indeed posing as a film about a man who may have been an American “hero” and instead condemning the ideologies behind all of it.

Mike Nichols works around his technique with the sharp point of view to show us what the people working in the government are seeing as aiding their country to instead expose mistakes that they’ve made. Even with the tone that Mike Nichols is playing along with in Charlie Wilson’s War there’s a clear sense of anger being directed towards what politicians believe will be working of benefit for their country, and the sort of catastrophes that in the end, it had led to. He uses this technique to define the character of Charlie Wilson, amidst all the political conflict as a means of critiquing ideals on both ends of the spectrum.

While Charlie Wilson is supposed to be painted as a hero, he’s shown to us as a womanizer with a love for alcoholic drinks. Yet even then, Nichols always has a means of creating intrigue with the character for at least there’s some intelligence behind what already would appear as charm coming out from how Nichols adds in his own dash of humour in order to bring his audiences a rather entertaining ride, all the more to be aided thanks to a delightful script penned by Aaron Sorkin. Their means of keeping a specific intrigue in the mannerisms of Charlie Wilson and his own intentions to do what is sought by him as the right thing, even if it means it may end up putting his rank at stake.

Tom Hanks moves away from his usual character in order to play Charlie Wilson and he’s always rather entertaining to watch when he takes the screen. Julia Roberts stands out as a rather weak link because, while she is rather tolerable in the role, something about her casting as Joanne Herring seemed rather off. She’s not particularly horrible but it really didn’t seem that she was fit for the character. However, to distract from that, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman holds the spotlight as he always does, yet also deserving of our attention are smaller roles much like Amy Adams, Ned Beatty, and Emily Blunt, much more satisfaction arises from the ensemble built right here.

While there are some subplots that are present that are suddenly abandoned, most of Charlie Wilson’s War runs smooth, at least thanks to how Aaron Sorkin has put everything on paper. It’s a clever film critiquing the mannerisms behind American politics especially when we come to consider some of the simplest mistakes that they’ve made which easily could have been dodged. As he went on from after the 1970’s, Mike Nichols continued to show audiences he still hasn’t lost his touch, and with Charlie Wilson’s War, a truly fitting final note is what he leaves us with.

Watch the trailer right here.

All images via Universal.

Directed by Mike Nichols
Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin, from the book by George Crile
Produced by Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman
Starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Ned Beatty, Emily Blunt
Release Year: 2007
Running Time: 100 minutes


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