Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Charlie Wilson's War

So I went to see the new Tom Hanks film on Monday: good reviews, amusing trailer, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffmann - what more could you want?

Well, although the film is good, I'm not sure it's deserving of all the plaudits it has received and I'd be very surprised if it were nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars (of course, with the strike, there's no guarantee the Oscars will run normally this year, but that's another story).

To sum up the plot, CWW tells the true (although as it was top secret, I guess we have to take his word for it) story of the eponymous Texas Congressman who organised the covert US funding of the mujahadin (sp?) against the Soviets in Afghanistan through the 1980s. As with Titanic, we all know it finishes in disaster ("We fucked up the end game" is the line that closes the film) but the actors clearly have fun telling the story on the way. Hanks plays Wilson, the whiskey-glugging good ol' boy, Roberts his evangelical muse and sponsor, while Hoffmann steals every scene (natch) as a Greek CIA fixer.

I suppose my main criticism of the movie is that it feels more like the first half of a big budget miniseries than a proper cinematic piece. Perhaps this isn't surprising, with it being written by the West Wing's Aaron Sorkin, but it left me a little disappointed. The story of how one man defeated the Red Army is fine, and we can whoop and holler a bit at the downfall of those pesky communists, but it would be nice to have a clearer exploration of how the Afghan situation moved on post-1989, via the rise of the Taliban, Al-Quaeda and 9/11 to where we are today.

I don't often say this, but I'd like a sequel please, Mr Nichols.

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