COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 42min
STARRING: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Charlie’s company: Hanks and Roberts
Like so many stories taken from truth, the tall tale of womanising, whisky-loving Texan congressman Charlie Wilson (Hanks) just about beggars belief. How did one freewheeling pollie contrive to covertly bring down the 1980s Soviet incursion into Afghanistan? By securing US funds to the sweet tune of $1 billion annually to aid the freedom-fighting mujahideen, that’s how — and how the devil did he wangle that?
Scripted by The West Wing’s Aaron Sorkin, who knows his way around a political maze, and directed at a crisp, uncompromising pace by Mike Nichols (Closer), Charlie Wilson’s War plots the unlikely crusader’s windmill-tilting course as he joins left-field forces with an imperious Southern belle (Roberts) and a rough-nut CIA operative (Hoffman) to empower the Afghan underdog. The cast — which of course couldn’t be sharper — steams through the fancy diplomatic footwork. And while a keen sense of irony unavoidably overshadows Charlie’s tactical triumphs, it never quite short circuits the galvanic fuse he lit.