Charlie Wilson's War (R)

Drama 97 December 21, 2007
By Robert Wilonsky
Mike Nichols, directing Aaron Sorkin's screenplay — based on George Crile's exhaustive book about a congressman who damned near single-handedly helped the Afghans kick out the Russians in the 1980s — certainly gets the tone right. The big-screen Charlie Wilson's War is dark and funny and mean and sexy — close to pitch-black perfect, considering that, at the end of this boozy comedy, you wind up with Osama bin Laden. This is the Nichols of Catch-22 (the satirist), not the Nichols of Regarding Henry (the moralist). Wilson, played by Tom Hanks, is a fucked-up hero, beyond belief but not beyond redemption; he drinks all day, keeps a staff of beautiful women collectively known as "Charlie's Angels," and more than likely enjoys cocaine in the company of strippers. To which Nichols and Sorkin say, "So what?" The way they depict it, a man could have just as good a time getting laid as saving a country; it's just a different kind of explosion. The punch line of Charlie Wilson's War is that, after spending $1 billion to help the Afghans liberate their country from the God-hatin' Ruskies, we refused to pony up a lousy $1 million to rebuild their schools. Who needs writers? You can't make this shit up.
Mike Nichols Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Mayte Garcia, Shiri Appleby, Erick Avari, Cyia Batten, P.J. Byrne, Christopher Denham John Orloff, George Crile, Aaron Sorkin Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman Universal Pictures