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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Great Game - not so great, not much of a game
This is a great movie, a cinematic version of Waugh's 'Scoop', but aimed oh-so-sharply at the blithe enthusiasm and well-meaning idealism that funds freedom fighters as they engage your enemy, and then wrings its hands as they metamorphose into terrorists and turn their weapons against you.

As the director of 'Catch-22', Nichols is on very secure territory...
Published on 8 Jun. 2008 by Withnail67

versus
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good film but spoiled by UNICEF fundraiser
We had great expectations of a hilarious film with a message. Although the story was gripping from the beginning, the fun really started about halfway through, when Philip Seymour Hoffman got into the action. Julia Roberts was disappointing, more reminiscent of Devil Wears Prada than the character in this film. Tom Hanks was excellent.

This was a nice mix of...
Published on 22 Aug. 2008 by James


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but could have been better, 23 Oct. 2008
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chuckles "barnie884" (Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Charlie Wilson's War [DVD] (DVD)
I have to agree with the reviews on here, this film covers a very touchy subject and gives you an insight into American politics. A floored but good congressman (Hanks) stumbles into a war that he didn't know that much about, upon finding out the true story dedicates his career with the help of a wealthy texas woman (Roberts) to righting the injustice, and in steps another floored but honest character (Hoffman). However a 90 minute movie on such a subject when no-one would blink if it were 2 hours doesn't do it justice. I feel if they had gone a bit further it would have been so much better.........
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sooner or later God's gonna be on both sides, 19 May 2011
This review is from: Charlie Wilson's War [DVD] (DVD)
A film about the strange bedfellows (at times literally) who brought about the financing for the mujahideen in their fight against the Soviet Army. Tom Hanks plays the eponymous congressman well, and the film gives an account -- which claims accuracy -- of the very personal nature of US power, around which the US covert institutions coalesce. All of this is, towards the end, intercut with footage of the mujahideen shooting down Russian helicopters and blowing up Russian tanks. The film impresses by the way its focus on Charlie Wilson never forgets, or feels comfortable, with the larger conflict he plays such an important role within. Is this personal aspect a good thing? Is it what made or makes America the genuine good guy? Or does the naivety of many of the chief actors stand condemned as a form of irresponsibility? Not that Charlie Wilson, or the film, is oblivious to the ironic point of view the date of the film gives -- the mujahideen are no longer, for an American audience, the glorious god-fearing freedom fighters (ie prototypical American patriots) fighting for their country against an overweening imperial power. An entertaining film, but never stupidly so: 'I think what's got Gust worried is that sooner or later God's gonna be on both sides.'
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Charlie Wilson's War, 24 Mar. 2008
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C. MacLellan (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Charlie Wilson's War [DVD] (DVD)
Based on a 60 minutes journo by George Cirle, Charlie Wilson's War tells the warts and all story of the unknown trio who - supposedly - brought down the Soviet Union. Texan Congressman Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) is a hard-drinking, drug-taking, womanizing politician...oh, and a staunch anti-Communist. Being from the South, he leads an easy life on Capital Hill, "Getting to vote yes a lot". Millionaire socialite and `special friend' Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts) wants to help the Afghans remove the Soviets from their country after witnessing the suffering of refugee's first hand...oh, and she's an anti-Communist too. She `persuades' Charlie that the Afghan resistance needs weapons to shoot down Soviet helicopters. However, the United States can't afford to have American weapons shooting down Soviet choppers. Enter hot-headed, pot-bellied CIA man Gust Avrakotos to solve their problems.

When we first meet Charlie Wilson, he's relaxing between several naked glamour models, sipping on a JD and coke. At this point, you may think Tom Hanks has wandered into a role written for Woody Harleson or Bill Murray. But when you realise he is more interested in the TV news report playing in the background than his scantily clad companions, your opinion starts to change. In fact, Hanks has the perfect mix between patriotic statesman and play-boy southerner.

Julia Roberts perfectly portrays the regal Joanne Herring who, being the six-richest women in Texas, knows what she wants and how to get it. But the plaudits must be saved for Phillip Seymour Hoffman, as pissed-off CIA man Gust Avrakotos. In our first meeting with him, he's smashing his bosses' office window in rage. This sets him up for the rest of the film as a frank and volatile character - and the 80s look just adds to the comic value. Hanks and Hoffman's characters also have great on screen chemistry with the Congressman asking at their first meeting, "Do you drink" and the CIA man replying, "Oh, God, yes".

Coming from West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin, the film provides a much needed release from the raft of films which have critiqued American foreign policy in the last six months, such as Rendition and Lions for Lambs. It cynically portrays the realism of politics and power, whilst being witty and very sharp. The scene where Hoffman is shuffled in and out of the Congressman's office is reminiscent of a scene from Yes, Minister.

Sorkin and Paul Nichols have managed to keep the film tight, coming in at just under 100 minutes. However, this was one of the problems with this film. The final act is very rushed and just as the film starts to critique the short-sightedness of American foreign policy...the credits begin to roll. Some may feel that this was a good move, and avoid covering ground that the films mentioned above have already done this year. But without this final section, the film turns from being a revolutionary critique to an entertaining story-telling exercise.

Charlie Wilson's War is entertaining, sharp and witty, especially the performance given by Hoffman, but could have been deeper, looking more a why Afghanistan is as it is today, rather than how.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Cold War, now available in Primary colours..., 14 Jun. 2008
By 
Mr. Stephen Kennedy "skenn1701a" (Doha, Qatar) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Charlie Wilson's War [DVD] (DVD)
So what do you know - it's possible to make a cheerful movie about the war...
Actually, the reason this movie feels so light and cheerful is that it is really about Charlie Wilson the man rather than the war. The movie tells the (based on true) story of the Texas Congressman who played a pivotal role in getting substantial funding to the Mujahedin in Afghanistan, eventually leading to the forced withdrawal of the Russians, thereby paving the way for the downfall of the Soviet Empire - as told by this movie at least. The interesting part is that Charlie Wilson was a womanizing party animal who was the last person many would have thought would tackle this issue.
The cast fit the bill perfectly - Tom Hanks surprises as the drinking Congressman, sharing a hot tub with strippers doing coke.. but retains the naivete that seems to have allowed him to say `why not' when faced with the question of increasing funds to Afghan freedom fighters. The woman asking the questions is a rich, headstrong Texan woman played by Julia Roberts, and the man in the CIA actually getting the job done and providing the technical explanations, is played by Philip Seymour Hoffman.
It's shot well, in bright colours and plenty of lighting so we never have a dark moment, and acting is perfectly fine throughout. There is even just a touch of acknowledgement at the end that things were not so straightforward, and a warning that with the Russians gone, and without funding rebuilding infrastructure and schools, the `crazies' would inevitably take the leading role. As of course they did.
On the downside, this is really a very superficial look at the issues, and a rather one-sided look at events in history. On the plus side, it's a fun and entertaining introduction to the man and the history, that at 1hr 38 min never outlasts its welcome.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good film. Annoying disc., 2 Mar. 2010
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This review is from: Charlie Wilson's War [DVD] (DVD)
First impressions first, eh?

The DVD opens with a preachy, didactic, UNSKIPPABLE four-minute-long clip, narrated in twee poetry by Cate Blanchett (I think), telling us in essence that "HIV is bad". No, you think?

It's so long that the first time I played the disc I thought it was the opening of the film, and I recall being surprised as it seemed out of tone with what I assumed would be the rest of the film. It soon became clear that it wasn't - and when I played the disc again to watch the end of the film, it turned out that this blasted promo can't be skipped! I've seen it, it's not told me anything I didn't already know, I keep myself informed of what's going on in the world - so why do I need to have this preachy drivel forced on me? Very poor choice - well-intentioned, but poor - on the part of the disc editors.

On to the film, then.

No, it's not laugh-out-loud funny. It's not action-packed. It's not the broad comedy that it seems many were expecting.

But it is a light, amusing, often contemplative West Wing-style political drama - hardly surprising, given its pedigree. It highlights a war and situation that perhaps most people didn't know a great deal about, and does so in an engaging way. Take it for what it is, not what the blurb makes you expect, and you might enjoy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Part of Charlie Wilson's Legacy, 4 July 2013
This review is from: Charlie Wilson's War [DVD] (DVD)
"Charlie Wilson's War" touches on the late U.S. Representative Charlie Wilson's efforts to successfully raise millions of dollars to help the Afghan mujahideen defeat military members of the former Soviet Union. The film portrays that Wilson's intentions were noble. However, the drawback is that some of those same men that were given weapons to defeat the Russians during the 1980's are now part of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Some of them are also now some of the same men that Western troops in Afghanistan have to contend with. There is controversy that Osama Bin Laden may have been one of the "freedom fighters" during the 1980's. Regardless of whether you feel that it was a good idea for a gifted U.S. politician to help arm the mujahideen, Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts do a good job in the roles of Charlie Wilson and the sophisticated and wealthy Joanne Herring.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Who said they couldn't bring down the Soviet empire?", 8 April 2008
By 
Matt Pucci "mattpucci.com" (Here, there and everywhere) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Charlie Wilson's War [DVD] (DVD)
Tom Hanks' career could hardly be described as unsuccessful - he is one of only three actors ever to have seven consecutive $100million blockbusters - but his choice of roles hasn't always proved to be entirely triumphant. His recent turn as Robert Langdon in the Da Vinci Code, for example, was average at best; as one-dimensional as the film itself. And so, with very little knowledge of the 'war' in question, it was with great intrigue that I watched this, in which Hanks stars as a Democratic Texas Congressman, driven to supporting the Afghans' plight against the Soviet Union during the early 1980s. Wilson's idealism - which at times appears almost naïve - and his determination to pursue this cause, provides the film with its plot, and it is to Hanks' credit that the pace is maintained throughout. His portrayal of Wilson is a winning mixture of Southern charm, good humour, pathos, unerring resolve - and just a smidgeon of that ol' Tom Hanks' magic. Of course, the fact that he is flanked by the ever brilliant Philip Seymour Hoffman and the statuesque Julia Roberts (highly convincing as Wilson's conscientious love interest, Joanne Herring) does him or the film no harm either...

If nothing else, Charlie Wilson's War succeeded in piquing my interest in the Cold War and in the darker side of American foreign policy - however well-intentioned - which I have since gone away and researched in more detail (with George Crile's book of the same name being the obvious starting point). The film, however, should be judged on its own merits and personally I did not find it to be pro- or anti-American, preachy, or moralistic, but it did open my eyes to how political and military victories were - and to a certain degree, still are - achieved. It is a touch heavy on the political jargon for the average movie-goer, but the dialogue is swift and witty throughout making this an enjoyable and entertaining film, regardless of the depth of your knowledge of the period in question.

Matt Pucci
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't really fault it, 3 Jun. 2008
This review is from: Charlie Wilson's War [DVD] (DVD)
This film is loaded with great performances, especially Gust Avrakotos the CIA agent, splendidly played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

The ending quote from Charlie Wilson gave the film some weighted balance. It's one thing helping the Mujahideen defeat the Ruskies, but if you don't rebuild the country afterwards then the crazies, to quote Gust, will fill the void.

The script is sharp, witty and never slows down. I wasn't to sure about the cheesy attempt to portray 'nasty' Russian helicopter pilots and the chess scene was silly. However, the film flowed brilliantly and it would be churlish to try and find minor faults just for the sake of it.

Allowing the fact that beauty (or politics) lies in the eye of the beholder, I have no hesitation in recommending this very entertaining film.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great but..., 20 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Charlie Wilson's War [DVD] (DVD)
Fantastic film. Great characterisation and very good story telling but the enjoyment has been destroyed by the obligatory diatribe from Ms Paltrow (which you can not fast forward through and the FAST stuff, both of which I find very condescending - in fact the reason I now find attractive to buy pirate DVDs - is that they don't have that infantile warning before it). If only the DVD manufactures would accept that most people who watch DVDs are law abiding the better. Anyway - the film. Very very good, if only for the performance of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Superb. If you would like to see a master class in character acting then watch this. Philip outshines all the rest. Brilliant.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Uncinematic story competently but blandly filmed, 29 Nov. 2008
This review is from: Charlie Wilson's War [DVD] (DVD)
The film is not very good. It is simply not a very cinematic story, and it has not been dramatically filmed. It's just a bunch of people talking about funding a secret war, but with the intricacies of the politics and deceptions simplified to the point of rendering everything bland and dull.

An example: Hanks tells the President of Pakistan that he has probably broken the Logan Act in his dealings. The President asks what this is, Hanks does not explain. So most of the audience are left in the dark. As I have read the book I know that the Logan Act states that it is treason for anyone apart from the President of America to conduct foreign policy (ie. only the President can start a war, which is pretty much what Charlie Wilson has done by joining a war America is not fighting). If this was explained in the movie then it would have been dramatic and interesting, but instead it's brushed under the carpet rendering the scene dull. And don't get me started on how stinger missiles suddenly turn up in Afghanistan all of a sudden (in the book it takes about 300 pages of pleading and arguing before the government allowed them to be deployed).

The only good thing about the film are two scenes involving Philip Seymour Hoffman. The first scene where he has an argument with his boss and the scene where he meets Hanks for the first time. The rest of the film is a boring dud. I even fast-forwarded a few sequences as I knew what was happening and couldn't be bothered sitting through these predictable scenes.

I have read the book (5 stars) and I can say that it is much better than the film. I would, without any hesitation, recommend reading that instead of watching this.

NOTE: There is a patronising Aids documentary on the front of the disc that you cannot skip. I have found that it can be bypassed by selecting Dansk (Danish?) on the language select screen to go straight to the main menu, you'll just have to switch off the subtitles when the film starts.
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Charlie Wilson's War [DVD]
Charlie Wilson's War [DVD] by Mike Nichols (DVD - 2010)
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