With so much Middle East meets West intrigue bubbling over in our current mode, making a film like Charlie Wilson's War an interesting one would seem like a slam dunk. But Aaron Sorkin can't think outside the flagged points laid out for him between the covers of the 2003 eponymous book. With an out-of-gas Mike Nichols on board, Charlie Wilson's War comes off like A Few Good Men meets The Birdcage. With Tom Hanks, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Julia Roberts wobbling around in bad mustachioed and toupeed glee the aim of Charlie Wilson's War feels uncomfortably like a 2-hour made for Showtime comedy.
Take a scene near the end, for example.... Rep. Wilson (Hanks) is debating with three members of his sub-committee over the funding of infrastructure rebuilding in Afghanistan. He seeks $1 million dollars; peanuts compared to the $1 billion he drummed up for the Mujaheddin. When his three fellow congressmen laugh him off, Wilson says "That's what we do. We get involved in another country's affairs, then leave..." But the line is delivered with no awareness of it's prescient meaning regarding the war in Iraq. We have stayed, we have been rebuilding infrastructure, we have been training, yet most of the country wants our military out. Whether you are for the Iraq War or not, it's an interesting conundrum for everyone to ponder.
Overall, the Afghanistan/Soviet war - and it's place in our current international crisis - seems like an after thought to Nichols and Sorkin. CWW is more a mini-biopic about Wilson and his affection for women, whisky, and Washington than an emotional lunge at how the backs we scratch sometimes come back to bite us. Even failures like Rendition gave diplomatic complexities such as those more of a go.