Charlie Wilson’s War

Before No Country for Old Men I saw a preview of an upcoming film called Charlie Wilson’s War, based on the book of the same name. The trailer perplexed me. The movie is being marketed as one of those classic Hollywood “plucky visionary bucks the system” stories. Tom Hanks plays Charlie Wilson, a Democratic congresman from Texas who was instrumental in arming the mujahadeen in the wake of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Some people credit him with ending the Cold War, which makes him a funny subject for a Mike Nichols film scripted by Aaron Sorkin. I’m curious to see what kind of spin the film has because frankly from the previews I don’t get it.

There have been far reaching effects of the Afghan war that continue to haunt us to this day. So many of America’s current problems can be traced back to that conflict. America fostered Islamic radicalism by training and arming the mujahadeen, and this led directly to the rise Osama bin Laden and his ilk. So when I see a movie that seemingly celebrates the guy who pushed forward policy that backfired so disastrously, I have to scratch my head. My hope is that the film is smarter than its marketing but I must admit I am wary of Charlie Wilson’s War.

2 thoughts on “Charlie Wilson’s War

  1. I caught an advance screening last week. I’m a Philip Seymour Hoffman fanboy, and he was brilliant as the jaded CIA agent.

    The story itself isn’t very compelling, so the film leans heavily on solid performances by the leads and its relevance to modern politics.

    As far as its political agenda, the film plays it safe, offering up a few subtle references for both war-mongers and peaceniks alike, but doesn’t make any bold pronouncements.

    There was a somewhat jarring contrast between the period newsreel footage (which I recognized from a documentary we produced in the 80’s) and the CGI-enhanced FPS-shooter-style footage of Hind gunships mowing down Afghan villagers. This juxtaposition was perhaps the strongest “statement” made in the entire film.

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